The federal government has criticized the violence used by demonstrators to clear the village of Lützerath for lignite mining. The deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann referred to an interview by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) from the weekend in the “taz”, where he explained that the limit for demonstrations is where violence occurs. “This limit was exceeded in Lützerath, and we expressly condemn that,” said Hoffmann on Monday in Berlin.

Activists had accused the police of excess violence during the large demonstration on Saturday. They estimated the number of injured since the beginning of the police action on January 8 at around 300. On Saturday there were between 90 and 120 injured demonstrators, said spokesman for “Lützerath is alive”. The police did not give a number of injured protesters and activists, but confirmed that protesters were taken to hospitals by ambulance nine times on Saturday. However, none of the demonstrators were in mortal danger.

According to the police, more than 100 officers were injured within six days during the evacuation, more than 80 of them on Saturday. A police spokesman said it was not yet clear how many injured themselves without outside influence.

NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) doubted the figures given by the activists. “As far as we know today, the numbers can’t be right. But maybe people went home with broken bones without being treated,” said Reul. On the other hand, not all police officers were injured by demonstrators. Many injuries are due to the muddy ground.

Hoffmann: The mission has to be worked through

“The police enforced the law in Lützerath,” said government spokeswoman Hoffmann. This must be accepted, and it was also accepted by the majority of the peacefully demonstrating participants in the assembly. “But unfortunately not by everyone.” This led to the clashes that the police actually wanted to avoid. The operation must now be processed, including the proportionality of the police action.

Hoffmann thanked the police officers who were on duty around Lützerath. It was not an easy mission, preparations and implementation were enormously challenging.

Addressing the activists, Hoffmann explained: “This federal government has understood that we have to do everything we can to make the energy transition a success.” However, the path to climate neutrality in 2045 must also be feasible. Until then, Germany does not want to emit more greenhouse gases than can be bound again. “We cannot leave fossil fuels behind overnight,” said Hoffmann.

Reul defended the police against allegations of disproportionate use of force on Sunday evening. The police worked “highly professionally”, said Reul on Sunday evening on the ARD talk show “Anne Will”.

He will have any case of inappropriate police violence investigated. “We’ve seen one or two films online where we say: ‘That doesn’t look good.’ We’ll take a close look at that, and we’ve also filed a criminal complaint just to be on the safe side, because I think it needs to be checked. I did always done in the last few years, and that’s how it’s done now.”

But it’s not as if there were masses of “crazed police officers” at the demo. He would have wished the organizers of the demo to clearly distance themselves from violence, but that didn’t happen.

Neubauer: police operation “disproportionately violent”

Climate activist Luisa Neubauer contradicted this and accused the police of a disproportionately violent operation on the show. “It didn’t look professional in any way,” she said. Neubauer pointed out that according to a paramedic for the demonstrators, many people had been seriously injured by the police. The protest against it was peaceful.

The Green Federal Chairwoman Ricarda Lang again defended her party’s line in the eviction. “It wasn’t an easy compromise for me personally, I think for many in my party,” she said in the ARD “Morgenmagazin”. However, it is a sign of strength that the party does not make things easy for itself.

According to the police union (GdP), the evacuation went largely as expected. However, the weather conditions with constant rain and deep morass made the operation more difficult, said Andreas Roßkopf, chairman of the GdP district of the Federal Police, the German Press Agency. He found it incomprehensible that peaceful participants had not managed to “distance themselves from the violent participants”. This made it difficult for the police officers to “intervene appropriately”. Overall, the emergency services acted with prudence and “the necessary sense of proportion”.