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Greta Thunberg detained by German police at coal mine protest

Clashes as police clear climate activists in coal standoff
Clashes as police clear climate activists in coal standoff 01:24

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and other demonstrators were detained by German police on Tuesday during a protest over a coal mine. Thunberg was near the German village of Lüetzerath, where an energy company is seeking to demolish the remains of what they say is an abandoned town to make way for the mine's expansion. 

Video from Reuters shows Thunberg sitting with fellow protesters before three police officers pick her up and carry her by her arms and legs away from the sit-in. Once there, Thunberg is seen being held still by officers, at some points, she is seen laughing. 

Thunberg confirmed the detainment early Wednesday. 

"Yesterday I was part of a group that peacefully protested the expansion of a coal mine in Germany. We were kettled by police and then detained but were let go later that evening," she said. "Climate protection is not a crime."

Reuters reported that police told the group they were "going to use force" to bring protesters to an "identity check," before asking them to "please cooperate." A spokesperson for the Aachen police told the agency that Thunberg was one of several who "rushed towards the ledge," presumably referring to the brink of the mine. 

"However, she was then stopped and carried by use with this group out of the immediate danger area to establish their identity," the spokesperson told Reuters. It is not clear if Thunberg has been formally arrested. CBS News has also reached out to Aachen police. 

Thunberg, who turned 20 earlier this month, was at the Garzweiler opencast mine — a short distance from Lüetzerath  — when she was carried away by the officers, Reuters reported.

Police on Tuesday said after people were evacuated from Lüetzerath, roughly 127 people went onto railway tracks that connect the Garzweiler mine to the Neurath power plant. While some people left the tracks voluntarily once confronted by police, police said that others allowed themselves to be carried off. The energy company has filed criminal charges against those who were on the tracks, police said.  

At another point, police said that some activists "stormed" into the direction of the opencast mine, according to a translation, with one group running to the edge of the mine and one person jumping into it. That person was later rescued, police said, and after officers acquired the personal details of all those involved, they were released on site. 

On Jan. 11, RWE Power announced that it would "start to demolish" the hamlet to begin coal mining operations in the area. In its press release, the company said that "all original inhabitants left the village some time ago" and the only people who remain in the area are "illegally occupying the buildings and areas" belonging to the company. The coal, according to the company, is "needed...during the energy crisis." A fence slightly shorter than a mile long was put up around the construction site perimeter. 

Demonstrators have been gathered at the German hamlet of Lüetzerath since last week, and at some points have thrown Molotov cocktails. On Saturday, police used water cannons and batons to disperse crowds. On Wednesday, police cleared the area of roughly 300 demonstrators, according to the BBC

On Saturday, with thousands of people gathered, Thunberg addressed protestors, saying that people have long warned about the consequences of climate change. 

"People living on the front lines of the climate crisis, the most affected people in the most affected areas," she said. "And the science is very clear: The carbon needs to stay in the ground. We need to stop the current destruction of our planet and sacrificing people to benefit the short-term economic growth and corporate greed." 

That day was also met with violence, with police saying that some protesters broke through barriers, prompting officers to use pepper spray, batons and water cannons to prevent activists from entering the mine. 

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