Stop Coal. System Change now!

Fighting the Crisis since 2015! – EN

Action report on Ende Gelände’s action 2020

The climate justice movement came back with a strong signal – 3.000 activists successfully blocked the coal and gas infrastructure in the entire Rhineland (Germany), during the last weekend of September. Jointly with Fridays for Future and “Alle Dörfer bleiben” (All villages stay), we showed: we won’t be stopped. The fight against the climate crisis continues, not despite of, but exactly because of Covid-19. For the climate crisis as well as for the Covid-19 crisis it‘s for sure: While companies are getting deals worth billions and are carrying on to exploit humans and planet, the costs are reflecting on those, who already have the least. With the action-weekend we showed: not with us. We will stay disobedient. For climate justice worldwide – stop coal, save villages, dig off capitalism!

This year everything was different from usual: at the beginning of the year we opted for a mass action in Rhineland – close to the threatened villages and for around the 26th September 2020. But instead of being able to dive into preparations as usually, we were also surprised by the Covid-19 pandemic and faced completely new challenges. To prepare the action with sufficient social distancing aka digitally, was also for us uncharted territory to a certain extent and it required some time. The re-entry-law of coal – a free ride for 18 more years of climate destruction – gave us our former power. Anger spread, resulting in numerous small action groups and demonstrations and for many it was the starting shot to organize the mass action.

To conduct a mass action during Covid-19 though, we had to do many things differently than usually. There was no business as usual this year; instead, there were 10 base stations , 14 mini-fingers and a comprehensive infection protection plan . Nonetheless there were doubts until shortly before the action – “Is an action with Covid-19 conditions tenable?” and “Can we carry the increased burdens of the organizational extra effort?”. At the end we always decided to continue – and successfully started into the action in the early morning of the 26th September.

The action was characterized by repressions (sorry, link only in German ), in ways that Ende Gelände never had experienced before (and we thought we were already used to quite some). Police tried to impede the action with all means. Freedom of assembly was severely limited: people were not allowed to join vigils, the Fridays for Future demonstration could not go along the intended path and trains did not stop at stations, so that activists could neither get on or off. Police required real names of all activists and almost cleared the base station in Aachen. They unleashed unmuzzled dogs on activists and hurt them with police horses, pepper spray and riot sticks. The “olive” finger was violently beaten out of the train, and several fingers were driven more than 100 km out of the coal district and partially casted at no longer served stations. Press freedom was severely limited and in the preventive detention center there were multiple sexist and racist incidents.

But despite police resorting to its entire repertoire of unlawful and violent methods, it could not stop us from successfully blocking coal and gas infrastructure. 14 mini fingers scattered across Bonn, Aachen, Mönchengladbach, and Düsseldorf on the action weekend, so that the police spokesperson described the situation as “confusing”. To regain clarity for everyone, here an overview of all actions of all fingers.

Fight NeoCO 2 lonialism

The Purple finger drove in the early morning from Cologne by train. On the route, the train omitted the stop at the industrial park Dormagen. Police evidently did not know, where the finger actually was on its way to. At Düsseldorf’s harbor the finger was first kettled, then could however still move up to the gates of Lausward gas-fired power plant. There it blocked the driveway for a few hours, and subsequently went through Cologne with a vibrant demonstration against the criminalization of the climate justice movement.

After multiple trains were suddenly cancelled due to police instructions, the Bronze finger started off to the power plant Weißweiler, however was kettled 1 km before destination. After another failed attempt, the finger decided to travel back to Aachen and there to welcome back the Green finger.

The Green finger was first not allowed to enter Aachen Central Station and then also not to travel to the vigil at the viewpoint Skywalk close to surface mine Garzweiler. Going with a detour through Rheydt and with much police escort they later arrived at the open cast mine Inden. Shortly before the open cast mine they were however kettled and went back to Aachen after several hours. Police was violent and arrested two people in the kettle and on the way back. In Aachen, the Green finger was welcomed by the Bronze finger and there was a spontaneous demonstration towards  the detention center, to pick up the detainees.

The Glitter finger suddenly appeared at the power plant Weißweiler in the morning and successfully blocked the coal bunker. After the clearance, the finger was brought in the detention center and later released again.

The Olive finger wanted to change train in Cologne-Ehrenfeld after a few hours train ride, however there their train was not allowed to continue. Instead activists were violently pulled out of the train by the police and detained many hours. This led to an interruption of train service. Subsequently, activists were brought to Siegen by busses, and had to get back to their base station from there.

The Purple and the blue finger decided spontaneously to start the action together. In the early morning, the finger set off from Cologne to travel by train in the direction of Garzweiler. At dawn and after several clashes with the police, the finger reached its destination: activists advanced into the south-east part of the open cast mine and stopped the conveyor belts for the day. After repressions against press as well as employment of riot sticks and pepper spray against activists, the finger was kettled. Individual activists were brought to a detention center. The rest of the finger was displaced by police to Olpe, 100 km away, from where it took several hours to get back to Cologne.

The Silver finger was the international one. On the way to Cologne there was a ticket control, but then the finger could continue traveling. Since Cologne-Ehrenfeld was closed by police (because they were beating the Olive finger out of the train), Silver traveled over Düsseldorf close to Purple blue. Since the finger could not get further there, it stayed some time, until the police left, and it occupied the north-south coal-railroad in the evening. After several hours, the finger was cleared and driven to Xanten in police busses. Since trains were no longer running, it came back to Bonn with multiple Ende Gelände busses the next morning. No other finger covered such a long distance nor was on the way for so long.

The Pink finger got off unnoticed in Gusdorf and walked, still in the darkness, to the Garzweiler coal bunker, which they successfully occupied. The eviction lasted the entire day.

(Video bei Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ende__Gelaende/status/1309797054764462080 )

The Colourful finger drove by bus towards the Hambach brown coal open cast mine. After they got off, they got kettled after few hundred meters and police dogs were violently deployed. Then they traveled back and were detained in Keyenberg, without being allowed to the toilet. Only after several hours, busses were allowed back to the base station.

The Gold finger was severely hindered from starting already on the street in front of the base station. After some debates, brutal violence and wounds by police and their horses, half of the finger got through obstacles to the goal, the guest house in Keyenberg. There activists celebrated the re-opening and revived the place again, to take a stand against expropriation and destruction. The building was decorated, and the bowling alleys gotten to work again. Residents were present all the time on the street outside for support – the other half of the finger later joined as it was possible. The next day the finger decided for a mutual end, left the house together and went back to the camp.

The Orange finger walked from Lützerath to Keyenberg and was kettled there about 150m away from the guest house. Here as well police horses were deployed. By this trick the finger withdrew police forces away from the golden finger which could then get to the guest house by detours. Unfortunately the fingers couldn‘t wave at each other – and so Orange sat eight hours alone in the kettle. In a long wet walk they got back to the base station, which was sinking in rain during the next night.

The Anti Coal Kids (Anti Kohle Kids, AKK) drove to the Fridays for Future demonstration in Hochneukirch and annexed to this. While the police was blocked by the demonstration, the finger ran over a highway bridge and fields and could be stopped by the police only shortly before the north-edge of Garzweiler. They moved with a musical demonstration back to the train station and then rode back to their base station.

The Chillired and Magenta fingers walked together to the train station of Baal. There they noticed that the trains would skip the 3 stations nearby in the next hours by police order. The fingers were not allowed to move further. On the way back to the base station however they escaped and walked to the near-by construction site of the ZEELINK natural gas pipeline, which was successfully blocked by the fingers at different spots. In the evening they voluntarily left the construction site and went back to the base station.

With this action we once again broke our records: there had never been as many base stations and fingers; never had the action area been so large. For the first time a house was occupied in solidarity with “Alle Dörfer bleiben” (All villages stay) and a natural gas infrastructure was occupied, whereby Ende Gelände covers another important topic. This worked only thanks to the hundreds of people, who ran base stations, provided action logistics, wrote press reports, took care of the legal number, treated the injured, ran the mobilization, developed the hygiene plan, cooked food and did much more. Thanks so much to all of you! We are also thankful for the thousands of activists who trusted us despite Covid-19 to go safely into action and make the goal of Ende Gelände become reality – to fight together and disobediently for climate justice!