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Why Greta Thunberg Was Detained During a German Protest

You go, Greta!

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at an ongoing protest against coal mining in Germany

Greta Thunberg has been making headlines recently for her brutal takedown of Andrew Tate (which may or may not have contributed to his arrest), but her main priority is still environmental activism—and it’s for that reason that Thunberg is once again in the news.

Greta Thunberg was just one of thousands of climate activists to protest the expansion of the Garzweiler lignite coal mine this past week. The protestors have been fighting against the mine expansion for many years, some going so far as to build treehouses to maintain their protest, even as the town around them was being torn down.

When interviewed about the protest, Thunberg stated: “It’s shocking what’s happening both in the pictures and in real life … They should stop this destruction immediately and also secure a just transition for all, this is only part of a global climate movement, and we stand together in solidarity.”

Protestors and police clashed repeatedly over the past few days, with protestors reporting the use of water cannons and batons, while the police reported fireworks being thrown at officers and patrol cars. This led to a push on Tuesday in which multiple activists were detained, including Thunberg.

For her part, Greta doesn’t look too bothered over being detained, smiling as she was carried away from the scene. Police have also stated that she was not arrested, but merely detained until her identification could be provided. It is important to remember that while climate change affects us all, Thunberg is still a Swedish national and not a German citizen.

Some critics have drawn comparisons to the climate activists who throw food at famous art to bring attention to climate change and Big Oil, a protest intended more for generating awareness than action. I would more closely link it to a situation like the DAPL Pipeline, during which activists and Native Americans whose land was being taken were beaten and harassed by police.

This is also a further display of the identity crisis with which Germany’s eco-friendly future is struggling. The country claims to want a green future, but has also been increasing its use of coal (the dirtiest fossil fuel) recently due to the energy crisis aggravated by the war in Ukraine. Despite the Green Party having a lot of power in the country, activists are beginning to turn against them due to deals with fossil fuel companies like RWE—leading to more disconnect between governing bodies and the people they represent.

This is especially aggravating since the international research platform Coal Transitions found that Germany’s current coal production is sufficient for powering the country. It’s a frustrating situation for everyone involved; villagers have been evicted from their homes, climate protesters have been betrayed by politicians who claimed to be on their side, and even public backlash might not be enough to stop the expansion. All we can do is brush ourselves off and work toward a greener, cleaner tomorrow.

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Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.