German police carry out raids targeting climate activists

Seven members of Last Generation group under investigation, say Munich prosecutors

Police remove items during a raid in Berlin related to an investigation into the Last Generation climate activist group. AP
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German police raided 15 properties and seized assets on Wednesday, in an investigation targeting climate activists.

Prosecutors in Munich, in the southern state of Bavaria, said they were investigating seven members of the Letzte Generation – Last Generation – group, ranging in age from 22 to 38, on suspicion of “forming or supporting a criminal organisation”.

They said the seven targets are accused of organising and promoting a campaign to “finance further criminal offences” by the group and collecting at least 1.4 million euros ($1.5 million).

Two are also suspected of trying to sabotage an oil pipeline that connects the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt with the Italian port of Trieste.

Wednesday's searches, which were accompanied by orders to seize two bank accounts and other assets, aimed to secure evidence on the membership structure of Last Generation and its financing.

There were no arrests.

The controversial tactics of Last Generation – from hunger strikes to throwing mashed potato on paintings in museums – have resulted in the group being described by some German politicians as “climate terrorists”.

On Monday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he thought it was “completely nutty to somehow stick yourself to a painting or on the street”.

Over the past year, the group’s sit-ins on roads – which involve some members being glued to the asphalt – have become increasingly frequent, bringing traffic to a halt on an almost daily basis in Berlin.

In turn, more activists are landing in court.

While most received fines for disrupting traffic or obstructing police work, some have been given months-long jail sentences.

Last Generation climate protests in Germany - in pictures

The protests do not have broad public support.

In a recent poll by national broadcaster ZDF, 82 per cent of respondents felt the group’s street blockades went too far.

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck of the Greens has said the street blockades are “not a helpful contribution to climate protection”, because they don't win consensus, rather they “irritate people”.

Last Generation has acknowledged that its protests are provocative, but it argues that by causing friction it can encourage debate within society about climate change.

In April, German MPs rejected a call to clamp down on road-blocking climate activists with prison sentences of up to five years.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Last Generation wrote: “Nationwide raid. #completelynutty.”

“Searches of lobby structures and seizures of government's fossil money – When?” it said.

Updated: May 24, 2023, 9:00 AM