Germany: Last Generation plan further protests after raids

Last Generation, or Letzte Generation, the group raising climate awareness using often controversial protest methods in Germany, continued to collect funds and call for protests on Thursday, a day after raids against members suspected of helping finance a criminal enterprise.

The group, whose website was blocked amid the raid, launched a new website with the domain .org, instead of the German .de domain. It also continued to rally for protests on its Twitter account.

The raids have sparked a political debate across Germany’s spectrum, with some Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politicians staunchly supporting the legal action, and others opposing the group’s “criminal” classification.

The decision follows near-daily protests and demonstrations around Germany, particularly in Berlin in recent months, for the most part seeking to disrupt traffic and roads. The group says it is doing this to raise awareness on climate issues; its critics allege that it’s annoying ordinary people and regularly wasting police time and resources.

Divided opinions on ‘criminal’ classification in law

When blocking Last Generation’s official website on the .de domain, German authorities briefly redirected the website to a Bavarian police page which classified the group as a “criminal organization.”

Why do some see Last Generation as a criminal organization?

The authorities later retracted the move, whose legality stirred controversy.

Green Party legal expert Helge Limburg told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) that the “blanket assumption” of labeling the group Last Generation as criminal as a whole was legally dubious.

Sebastian Hartmann, the Social Democratic Party’s (SPD) legal expert, meanwhile stressed that for the moment law enforcement was only investigating “an initial suspicion” — the German term for evidence deemed sufficient to launch formal investigations or possibly proceedings.

Left-wing politician Lorenz Gosta Beutin told Bavarian broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk that the Bavarian prosecutors’ office had overstepped its bounds on Wednesday. He said that the linking to a website describing the group as “criminal” as a statement of fact was prosecutors “putting themselves above our judiciary and courts,” considering that for now only the prosecutors’ suspicions exist.

Meanwhile, CDU leader Friedrich Merz supported the police and public prosecution’s moves against the group, in statements on Twitter.

He said that “massive damage to property, graffiti on memorial plaques and gluing [oneself onto] streets or cars are quite simply criminal offenses.”

Speaking to broadcaster RTL, the conservative politician described the group members as “criminals” rather than “interlocutors,” saying he had no intention to meet with the activists over their climate demands.

Last Generation protest plans defiant

The group has meanwhile continued to plan and mobilize for further protests on its various platforms. A rally in Berlin late on Wednesday saw several hundred people join, the group said, calling it the largest protest to date.

Last Generation called for another rally in the capital later on Thursday.

It also announced receiving numerous donations in the wake of the raids. Climate activist and group member Henning Jeschke announced on Twitter that the group received over €162,000 (roughly $173,774) in less than 24 hours, calling on more to donate.

A professional and well-funded organization, the group regularly advertises training sessions for would-be protesters and other such activities, offers support paying any possible fines for protesters and even compensates some of its protesters financially for their time via third-party organizations.

Germany’s Last Generation group has repeatedly blocked traffic in Berlin and other cities in its campaign to press for more strident action to counter global warming.

The group is demanding that the German government formulate a plan to meet an international goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times.

As well as glueing themselves too busy intersections and highways, its members have targeted various artworks and exhibits.

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