German Police Evict Anti-Coal Activists From a 12,000-Year-Old Forest (in Photos) - Pacific Standard

German Police Evict Anti-Coal Activists From a 12,000-Year-Old Forest (in Photos)

The protesters have occupied a community of tree houses for six years to oppose a nearby coal mine.
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Police evicted protesters Thursday from a vast, old-growth forest in western Germany, where they've lived in a community of tree houses for the past six years in protest of a nearby open-pit coal mine.

Thousands of police officers cut down trees in the once-vast Hambach Forest in order to reach the settlement known as "Oaktown," the New York Times reports. After pulling out some 40 oaks, officers began wrenching protesters from their makeshift homes among the ancient hardwoods, activists said in a statement. Some occupiers locked themselves onto concrete blocks on the floor of their homes to resist eviction; at least a dozen were detained, police say.

"For many of us this is home. Some of us have lived here for years," an Oaktown activist named Freddy told the German Press Agency.

Despite Germany's public vow to cut down on carbon emissions and phase out coal, the country remains one of the world's biggest coal producers, according to the World Economic Forum. The energy company RWE has razed 90 percent of the 12,000-year-old forest for the Hambach Mine—the country's largest brown coal mine at nearly 1,500 feet deep, Fast Company reports—and this effort may fell its final 250 acres. Here are scenes from the forest dwellers' last stand. 

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Police forces invade the Hambach Forest to evict activists protesting the expansion of an adjacent open-pit coal mine on September 13th, 2018, near Julich, Germany. The anti-coal activists have been living in tree houses in the forest in an effort to prevent German utility RWE from clearing the last 250 acres of forest.

Police forces invade the Hambach Forest to evict activists protesting the expansion of an adjacent open-pit coal mine on September 13th, 2018, near Julich, Germany. The anti-coal activists have been living in tree houses in the forest in an effort to prevent German utility RWE from clearing the last 250 acres of forest.

An activist who occupies Hambach Forest takes refuge in a tree house on September 13th, 2018, near Julich, Germany. After six years in the woods, forest dwellers braced for forced eviction by police in a major escalation of the long-running environmental battle.

An activist who occupies Hambach Forest takes refuge in a tree house on September 13th, 2018, near Julich, Germany. After six years in the woods, forest dwellers braced for forced eviction by police in a major escalation of the long-running environmental battle.

Environmental activists living atop a tree house write the phone number of their legal team on their arms as police begin to clear the Hambach Forest forest in Kerpen, western Germany, on September 13th, 2018.

Environmental activists living atop a tree house write the phone number of their legal team on their arms as police begin to clear the Hambach Forest forest in Kerpen, western Germany, on September 13th, 2018.

Activists hold each other tight in Hambach Forest during a protest against the expansion of an adjacent open-pit coal mine on September 13th, 2018, near Julich, Germany.

Activists hold each other tight in Hambach Forest during a protest against the expansion of an adjacent open-pit coal mine on September 13th, 2018, near Julich, Germany.

An environmental activist waits in a tree house in the Hambach Forest in western Germany, on September 13th, 2018.

An environmental activist waits in a tree house in the Hambach Forest in western Germany, on September 13th, 2018.

Police arrest an activist from a tree house in Hambach Forest on September 13th, 2018. Confrontations between police and protesters reached a new height when protesters allegedly threw rocks at a police van and a police officer fired a warning shot from his gun into the air.

Police arrest an activist from a tree house in Hambach Forest on September 13th, 2018. Confrontations between police and protesters reached a new height when protesters allegedly threw rocks at a police van and a police officer fired a warning shot from his gun into the air.

Policemen lead an environmental activist off the Hambach Forest on September 13th, 2018.

Policemen lead an environmental activist off the Hambach Forest on September 13th, 2018. 

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