"Letzte Generation" (Last Generation) activists block a road under the slogan "Let's stop the fossil madness!" for an end to fossil fuels and against oil drilling in the North Sea, in Berlin, Germany, July 6, 2022. REUTERS/Christian Mang

The Berlin judiciary is now taking tougher action against street blockers from the “Last Generation” group. On Monday and Tuesday, after blockades, 24 people were sent to preventive custody by a judge for one day.

It is by far the largest number of activists who had to remain in custody overnight due to the blockades in Berlin in order to prevent further tape actions. On Tuesday and Wednesday there was hardly anything to be seen from the activists.

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As can be seen from the internal statistics of the police, in the first days after the blockades were resumed three weeks ago, the authority initially made massive applications for custody – 37 each on June 20th and 21st.

After that, there were only isolated applications and only a few judges’ decisions. Since June 20 and up until last Friday, only seven people have been taken into custody. Overall, the judges only followed 31 of 152 requests from the police – with a total of 750 blockers found.

Apparently, the proof that there is a risk of repetition is only right now. “We are in a trusting exchange with the district court and the public prosecutor’s office in order to optimize the processing and applications for judicial detention,” said a police spokesman on Wednesday.

According to the Berlin Security Act, the police can take a person into custody if “this is essential to prevent the imminent commission or continuation of an administrative offense of considerable importance to the general public or a criminal offence”.

According to the law, the police must then “immediately bring about a judicial decision on the admissibility and continuation of the deprivation of liberty”. Persons held by a judge’s decision must be released “at the latest by the end of the day after they were apprehended”.

The climate activists sharply criticized the decisions of the judges on Tuesday evening. “Judges do not recognize climate collapse,” said a statement from the “Last Generation”. Despite the threat of detention, the activists are undeterred.

According to the group’s statement, several activists testified before the judges in this way, announcing renewed blockades: “If you release me, I will glue myself directly to the next freeway exit and thus stand in the way of the deadly system.”

One blocker was quoted as saying: “In the attempt to maintain the regular course of the current everyday fossil life without disruption, the judiciary does not recognize that the security and order of all of us is massively endangered by the criminal actions of the government.”

The morning blockades on important roads and motorway junctions are now in their fourth week. The public prosecutor is investigating 73 people who got stuck on the streets of Berlin in January and February. The police still have more than 800 other procedures.

Usually it is about coercion and resistance against law enforcement officials, more rarely about the accusation of dangerous intervention in road traffic. At the request of the public prosecutor’s office, the “Asphalt” investigation group still has to rework the procedures from the beginning of the year due to gaps in the investigation.

The opposition and police unions have accused the judiciary of being particularly lenient towards the climate stickers, while the officials have to use cooking oil to remove the activists’ glued hands from the streets every day.

Benjamin Jendro, spokesman for the Police Union (GdP) recently said: “It is no coincidence that this protest takes place every day in the capital. Berlin is known beyond national borders as a feel-good biotope where people can sit and stick on the streets without legal consequences.”

Attorney General Margarete Koppers had rejected the criticism. “The public prosecutor’s office decides on the investigation, according to the law and not according to political ideals,” said Koppers. “When you read the latest statements from the police unions, the putty falls out of your glasses.”

This led to some resentment in the police, of which she was vice president until 2018, before she was promoted to chief investigator by the Greens. GdP spokesman Jendro said on Wednesday: “We never spoke about the lack of charges, but asked why people weren’t even taken into custody.” The impression was created “that criminal offenses are overlooked here because it was politically opportune”. “We are pleased that the need for adjustment has been recognized here,” said the GdP spokesman.

The legal expert for the left-wing faction in the House of Representatives, Sebastian Schlüsselburg, revealed how tense the debate has become. He told the Tagesspiegel that the opposition’s demands for “de facto court martials trample on the work of the public prosecutor’s office and the courts.”

It is a more than unfortunate comparison to the Nazis – by a left-wing politician of all people. Because the National Socialists had legally introduced so-called courts-martial in the Third Reich – initially for the military, later they were also directed against civilians without due process of law. Historians assume several thousand civilian victims of the court-martial. In Germany, the Basic Law prohibits court-martials.