Ende Gelände – two words that have become synonymous with a nonviolent, radical, mass- and non-hierarchical movement for climate justice in Europe. On the last weekend of August, thousands of people wearing the distinctive white overalls with a reversed pick and a hammer were shouting these two worlds: “Ende Gelände! Ende Gelände! Ende Gelände!”
All of them took part in this year’s civil disobedience action on the premises of coal mines, power plants, and the related infrastructure of RWE’s energy company in Rhineland. They returned to the same spot after two years, and showed that it’s not easy to step into the same river twice. The police this year were clearly determined to prevent anyone from even approaching the mine or power plant fence.
Hundreds of cops manoeuvred with tear gas cans strapped to their uniforms and several helicopters flying over their heads like one well-trained organism. Friday was a field day: the protests were halted at the road, three miles from the actual fence, for the whole day.. Only a few dozen people reached the mine entrance, and shortly after were attacked by RWE’s employees and later detained.
On Saturday, the luck returned to the protesters. Literally thousands of people managed to bypass the mobile police cordons and reached the rails, on which all the coal from the mines is transported to power stations. The battle of the day unfolded on the potato field, beside the tracks: stumbling policemen vs. stumbling protesters. The police tried to surround the demonstrators. Eventually, they succeeded – but not entirely: several small groups of activists sneaked through the tight cordons and blocked the rails for most of the afternoon, giving photographers a lot opportunities to take photos of people dragged around by policemen in riot gear.
Activists who took part in the action now face the risk of prosecution. Their goal remains the same: a future without fossil fuels, in which natural resources are distributed fairly.
Another Ende Gelände event will take place again in Rhineland from 3rd to 5th November.