This year's second Ende Gelände occupations saw over 4000 people temporarily shut down the enormous coal-mining pits in Hambach, Germany, while climate conference 'COP23' got underway nearby in Bonn. Photographer Roman Kutzowitz was there to document the protesters occupying Europe's single biggest source of CO2.
"Early on Sunday November 5, the separate 'fingers' of the action could be seen arriving at Buir train station. Protesters were wearing overalls, glasses and animal masks," says Kutsowitz.
"The 'fingers' system evolved during the yearly anti-nuclear protests near Gorleben, where evasive and non-confrontational tactics were put to trial in the forests and fields for several decades. The idea is to pass police lines without head-on confrontation and get to the desired spot – in this case, the Rhineland coal-mining pits."
"It is a 'be like water' tactical approach to struggle, rather than the 'stand and trade punches' model. A large demonstration divides itself into smaller groups – fingers – which are made up of affinity groups.
These fingers then descend upon separate goals, spreading out and sprinting through the gaps that open up in the police lines. The tactic proved successful, as all fingers successfully infiltrated the RWE property, blockaded the coal diggers, and forced the single largest source of CO2 on the continent to a standstill."
"Ende Gelände is a diverse network, with activists from around the world. Their aim is not just to lessen CO2 emissions, but to push for systemic transformation. Since the 80s, the movement was defined via the single-issue approach, rarely making connections to colonialism, gender or the fight against capitalism. Now, an intersectional approach to climate change prevails. As we now know, women and citizens of the global south are the first to be affected by this man-made catastrophe."
"Most protesters were young and could be seen entering the action singing and dancing. There was a lightness and merriment seldom seen when people put their bodies on the line. It was a welcome change to the ineffective, stern-faced demo-marathons that are common within the German left. As the global elite discussed possible text changes and hampered decisive action on climate change for another year, a young, joyful mob was showing that the best way to make an argument is through action."
With thanks to Roman Kutzowitz
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