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Hambacher Forst: hunting through the tree tops

Hambacher Forst: hunting through the tree tops

Bright cries echo through the forest. It is drizzling, gray clouds lie over the Hambacher forest, which is crisis area since Thursday morning. Armored and helmeted police officers are marching about among the trees down on the ground. On the access road to this piece of nature, which is probably more competitive than any other in Germany, park dozens of team cars.
                
                
            The police have apparently mobilized everything that was available: countless armed officers with shields, special forces, rider and dog teams, water cannons, tree felling machines, snowplows. The state sends an unmistakable message on this Thursday morning: Here, clear conditions are to be created.
            But the police rider does not get very far at first. Not even 50 meters behind the entrance to the forest, on a path, stands a huge tripod. A vertical frame made of three tree trunks, which stands on the ground with legs apart and high platform with a platform on which several activists persevere. "Cops piss you, no one misses you," they shout. They want to save the Hambacher Forst from being cleared by the energy company RWE, which wants to get to the lignite hidden beneath the forest. Tripods and monopods are among the most popular barricades of the tree dwellers. They can be set up quite quickly, but it takes a long time to remove them.
Hunting through the tree tops Around eight o'clock in the morning the police arrived and five hours later the first activist was taken from the tree by crane. When the climbing experts of the police pull the man into the basket, he shouts: "Alerta alerta antifascista", which means: "Attention, Attention! Anti-fascists!" His comrades, sitting in other treetops, agree and applaud. Arrived at the bottom, his hands are fixed with cable ties. He is barefoot, his face is covered in a matted beard, his thin legs are stuck in lab-worn cotton trousers. For hours he had fooled the officials, had skilfully climbed from the platform to other trees, from branch to branch.
                
                
            The hunt through the treetops resembles a spectacle. The police have specially marked a small area of ​​red-and-white fluttering tape for the press, into which the officers lead the incoming journalists. The interviewees also gathered here: spokespersons of citizens' groups, members of the Greens and leftists, Greenpeace, emissaries of municipalities. At some point everyone has interviewed everyone.
                

    
        
                                                
        1.16
        Activists face police and clearing troops.
                            © Henning Kaiser / dpa
    
        2/16
        On Wednesday evening, the Landesbauministerium in Dusseldorf had ordered the eviction. Thereupon the police mobilized and was present with "several hundreds".
                            © Henning Kaiser / dpa
    
        3/16
        With a water cannon and these heavy clearing vehicles, the police advanced to Hambacher Forst.
                            © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters
    
        4/16
        The clearing of the protest camp began at the direction of the city of Kerpen.
                            © Oliver Berg / dpa
    
        5/16
        With the buildings, the activists want to prevent the clearing of other parts of Hambacher forest by RWE. The energy company wants to reduce the brown coal reserves on the site.
                            © Christoph Reichwein / dpa
    
        6/16
        Several activists are waiting on the tree houses – or protesting on so-called monopods, high seats on tree trunks, which were surrounded by the police.
                            © Christoph Reichwein / dpa
    
        7/16
        Activists, some climbing higher and higher into the trees, are having breakfast.
                            © Jana Bauch / dpa
    
        8.16
        The police anticipated the violent resistance of the activists – and were prepared accordingly.
                            © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters
    
        9/16
        "For many, this is their home," said one of the activists on the morning of the eviction about life in the protest camp, which consists of 50 to 60, partly tolerated for years tree houses. "There are people who live here for six years."
                            © Christophe Gateau / dpa
    
        10/16
        The tree houses are equipped with years of use partly with small kitchenettes – for the authorities also with a reason for the eviction: The fire protection in the huts are poor, they would therefore have to be cleared immediately for security reasons, it is said in the eviction.
                            © Jana Bauch / dpa
    
        11/16
        Clearance troops initially removed the last barricades on the way to the protest camp called "Oaktown", before police officers used a lift and air cushions to begin clearing the high seats and tree houses.
                            © Henning Kaiser / dpa
    
        12/16
        Activists who got caught the police, could be removed without resistance.
                            © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters
    
        13/16
        This demonstrator had recently broken through the police cordons and tried to hug a tree.
                            © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters
    
        14/16
        With the help of lifts and pallet trucks, the members of the so-called height intervention team approach the activists in the trees. To protect the demonstrators, air cushions were draped on the floor.
                            © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters
    
        15/16
        Meanwhile, some activists retreated deeper into the forest.
                            © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters
    
        16/16
        These policemen capture their mission with a selfie – for the North Rhine-Westphalian authorities, it is the largest police operation in a long time.
                            © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters
    
    
    
            The day of the eviction was close, everyone knew that here. In recent days, the rumors had compressed that a major deployment is imminent. The clearing season begins in October. And the energy company RWE had made it clear that he would not tolerate a further postponement of large-scale deforestation, although the legal decision on the legality of the clearing is still pending.
                
            All discussions with opponents of brown coal power generation had failed. RWE had offered to lay the grubbing beginning in mid-December. But according to RWE, this was rejected by the environmental associations. The Essener energy giant has influential advocates in politics: The black and yellow state government, especially North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Armin Laschet, is behind the group.

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