Bonn · The activists of the "Last Generation" gathered for a demonstration at the Hofgarten on Wednesday. After the protest march, they caused traffic jams.
It was probably one of the slowest demonstrations Bonn has ever seen: On the occasion of the searches and arrests at the Last Generation, a large number of people took to the streets on Wednesday evening, just like all over Germany. In the federal city, around 160 people crept from the Hofgarten across the Kennedy Bridge to Beuel. It took the participants about one and a half hours to cover the distance of just under one and a half kilometres. There were no blockades or bonding actions, but traffic still came to a standstill.
The demonstration had not been announced, but there had been a call for a protest march on social networks. "We expected about 50 participants," said Viktor Kemmet, who was surprised by the turnout. The engineer from Königswinter had himself appointed leader of the assembly after the police had demanded it. The officials also did not seem to have expected such a crowd: At first, they wanted to make it compulsory for the demonstrators to use the pavement only. However, as more and more people came to the Hofgartenwiese, they worked out an assembly concept in which about 20 police officers secured the footpath across the roadway.
Despite the two opponents - the state on one side, the demonstrators on the other - the dialogue remained relaxed: The police advised not to get stuck, as is usually the case, and referred to criminal charges. A young woman who had put on a tube of glue as a necklace caused irritation. "It's just meant as a joke," she explained her belligerent jewellery to the sceptical police officers. The demonstrators made a promise not to block anything and to follow the requirements. Which, according to the police, they did: there were no sticky actions and no incidents.
No glue use this time
Kemmet knows this differently. The 57-year-old was recently in Berlin and also took part in a sticking action there. "We get a lot of encouragement, people thank us. But we also get insulted, there are regular fisticuffs," he said. In the meantime, people in the capital have become accustomed to the last generation and have developed their own countermeasures: Drivers and passers-by intervene more and more quickly and take the blockers off the street before the glue even sets. But this does not dampen Kemmet's motivation. "My generation was responsible for the biggest CO2 emissions. I can't help but go along," he said. His goal, he said, was to "interrupt everyday life" and deliberately disrupt it in order to draw attention to the climate crisis.
But there were concerns among the demonstrator not only about the environment, but also about democracy. "I am scared and worried about the current developments," said one man. For him, he said, it was incomprehensible why such harsh action was taken against the Last Generation, but the National Socialist Underground (NSU) remained undetected for years and was able to murder people. "I don't see the proportionality," he explained.
While many supporters of the Last Generation went along with placards and called for donations, there were also clear critics in Bonn. Two elderly couples advocated that more needs to be done for the climate. "But we can't do that by sticking ourselves in the streets. We should tackle this global problem of climate change together," said one senior. Nils Dormann and Max Grosche, both members of the Young Liberals, consider the activities of the Last Generation to be "lacking in ambition". For them, smearing the Basic Law monument at the Reichstag with paint or blocking traffic is undemocratic and the wrong form of protest. "Instead, people should talk to each other. But of course it is legitimate to take to the streets for whatever cause," Dormann said.
(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach; Translation: Mareike Graepel)