German authorities have conducted nationwide raids on 15 properties associated with the Last Generation climate activist group. The raids were initiated by Munich prosecutors as part of an investigation into the group’s finances.
Authorities shared that the properties searched were across seven German states, including four properties in Berlin, three in Bavaria, and three in Hesse, with the rest in Hamburg, Magdeburg, Dresden, and Schleswig-Holstein.
The Prosecutor General’s Office in Munich has launched a preliminary investigation “due to numerous criminal complaints from the population” since the middle of last year. Seven defendants, aged 22 to 38, are facing charges of “forming or supporting a criminal organization” and collecting at least 1.4 million euros ($1.5 million).
Two of the individuals being investigated are suspected of attempting to sabotage an oil pipeline connecting the city of Ingolstadt Bavaria with the port of Trieste in Italy in April 2022.
The group is known for its provocative protests. They hit the headlines last year for smearing cake on the Mona Lisa, and a number of other protests targeting artworks and exhibits around Europe.
In the past few weeks, the group has taken to gluing themselves onto roads, blocking intersections and highways in Berlin, and causing traffic disruptions almost every day.
The timing of the raids follows Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s recent comment, criticizing the disruptive tactics employed by the group. Scholz referred to the act of attaching oneself to a painting or blocking a street as “completely nutty.”
The group has also been criticized by prominent members of the environmentalist Green Party, calling their actions counterproductive.
“They make us afraid, but we must not be frozen by fear,” Aimee van Baalen, a spokesperson for Last Generation, told reporters.
“The German government is right now driving us toward climate hell with its eyes wide open. It is even stepping on the gas pedal,” she said. “We must continue to resist now, because we need to loudly demand that lives be protected.”
The raids have sparked public outrage, leading to a protest march in Berlin, which saw hundreds of participants. A few other rallies are planned in other cities in the country. Some protesters believe that the crackdown on climate activists is politically motivated and expressed concerns about its implications.
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