A young activist hides on a tree from police, who is clearing treehouses in the forest ‘Hambacher Forst’ near Dueren, Germany, Thursday, 13 September 2018. Young environmentalists fight against German energy company RWE, who plans clearing and grubbing the old forest for their open-pit lignite mine nearby to continue digging for brown coal. Photo: Martin Meissner / Associated Press

By Martin Meissner and David Rising 
13 September 2018

KERPEN, Germany (AP) – German police forcibly removed protesters from tree houses Thursday as they sought to free the way for parts of an ancient forest to be cleared next month for new coal strip mining.

Police were hoisted on platforms by cranes to the up-to 25-meter (80-foot) high tree houses constructed on wooden tripods in the forest’s canopy.

In one case a protester was guided by police off the treehouse onto a platform that had been hoisted up to the same level by a crane, then lowered to the forest floor.

Hundreds of police and water cannon trucks were on hand for the operation that began in the morning in the 12,000-year-old forest near the town of Kerpen, southwest of Cologne.

Using megaphones, police warned the protesters they had to remove their tree homes or face being removed.

Activists rejected as “ridiculous” local authorities’ contention that the homes constituted a fire hazard.

“The destruction of the Hambach forest is intolerable,” activist Jan Puetz told the dpa news agency, saying they planned “actions of mass civil disobedience.”

“Through this form of protest we are taking our future into our own hands,” he said.

By Thursday evening, two activists had been removed from the trees and four makeshift houses had been cleared and destroyed, dpa reported.

Police reported that one officer was slightly injured in skirmishes with activists who threw Molotov cocktails and stones. Several supporters blocked roads leading to the forest and one police car was damaged during the protests, dpa reported.

Power company RWE wants to start cutting down half the forest next month to expand a lignite strip mine. [more]

German forest standoff: Police clear protester tree homes

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