Day X in the Osterholz forest
(We recommand reading our introduction article about the reasons why Oetelshofen wants to cut down the Osterholz forest and how this is connected with the energy company RWE)
Already a long time before sunrise a police patrol scouts the parking lot Hermgesberg North of the Osterholz forest.
A short time later the police leaves the place.
Two squad vans of the police arrive at the parking lot and start controlling the parking vehicles. Where they can find people they take identities and send away the parking cars.
Meanwhile apparently a lot of officers of the riot police (German: BePo) enter the forest from the South by foot. According to witnesses they sneaked into the camp silently and ignited their torches not until all structures of the camp were surrounded.
A few journalists were already in the camp at this time.
The whole Osterholz forest is filled with hundreds of police officers. Along the hiking path every ten meters cops of the BePo guard the forest. The ground of the camp itself is under control by the German special police force BFE (unit for reservation of evidence and arresting).
At the vigil already around 25 supporters have gathered. Like every day at 6am the vigil is held right next to the threatened forest. The first police contact happens calmly and it seems the vigil could stay at this place.
Journalists can move around in the camp only accompanied by cops of the BFE.
Due to the fact that the technical mission unit (German: TEE) of the police isn’t allowed to work until the sun rises, the police focuses on the structures near the ground till then. Other than two tarp shelters in the North camp there is a small fortification in the South. Inside this fort there is a Tower with three floors mainly for storage. Attached to the Tower with a bridge is a sleeping structure. On the ground is a cooking shelter with a fireplace and seating area. The whole fort is barricaded with fences and brances. Inside the fort journalists aren’t allowed anymore.
Between the third floor of the Tower and some trees is set up a big green net. In there two activists made themselves comfortable. Another activist sits on the balcony of the Tower’s third floor.
Except for this third floor the Tower is occupied by cops. They tear off banners and cladding to make the structure viewable from outside. Also every possible evidence is collected or photographed.
Like the Tower all other structures near the ground get occupied, searched and destroyed too. In the process journalists seem to be not welcomed and cops point out to one another when they are getting filmed.
Next to the Tower cops of the BFE start to cut some trusses (rope constructions activists use to climb from tree to tree) and destroy banners hanging between trees.
The three activists at the Tower talk a lot to each other and nettle the cops humorously.
The police catches a person coming into the forest from the quarry and searches him. Due to the accompaniment of cops journalistic work is slowed down radically.
The vigil gets moved more South of the camp onto a junction. Actually the cops wanted to move the vigil even more South of the junction, but the protesters refuse.
It’s still dark; a good argument for the police to prohibit journalists roaming the forest on their own. Also journalists are ordered to stay in the South camp, where the police tears apart the fort even further. But the police is almost done with that.
Cops tell the three activists in the Tower that it will take time until they get evicted.
Again and again the vigil shouts “Osterholz stays” through the woods and the activists repeat the call. Other than that the situation seems to be static and an almost creepy silence lays over the forest.
Slowly it dawns. To big crawler excavators enter the forest out of the quarry to tear down the barricades on the wood path.
That happens frighteningly fast. The barricades can’t stop the excavator for long.
One excavator drives down South the path to the vigil. In between it stops sometimes for a moment to clear more barricades.
The excavator reached the vigil, which gets ordered by the police to clear the intersection of the path until 08:30am.
Now the plan of the police is revealed: The excavator has to tear an aisle into the forest from the South to the fort, but the vigil is in its way.
A spontaneous sit-in has formed on the junction to protect the vigil’s peaceful and registered protest and to stop the excavator.
After two warning announcements to clear the junction on their own, the police pushes aside the standing protesters. Then the BFE carries away the 17 people of the sit-in.
In the process nobody is taken in custody.
Now the excavator can pass.
With the excavator and chainsaws they start to cut a path through the forest to the Southern part of the camp. At the same time tractors bring tons of gravel to make a street out of the muddy path.
“For saftey reasons” all journalists get banned just a few minutes after. Other than the police nobody is allowed in the threatened forest anymore.
The police shuts off the terrain with fluttering tape.
For the next hours the situation stays the same:
Chainsaws screaming through the forest, trees fall down. Gravel gets brought, unloaded and compacted with a road roller. With the street getting built cars and lifting platforms can drive into the fort later. Some of the construction machinery is from Boeals rentals. Number plates and company signs are dismounted or masked off. Also Oetelshofen starts to enclose the area with a fence.
Meanwhile the polices’ technical mission unit (German: TEE) with trained climbers arrive along with the press secretaries of the police, who coordinate the contact with the press from now on.
Only now journalists are allowed back into the enclosed area under accompaniment. They can enter the fort “to talk with the disturbers”. Thats the last time journalists can walk into the fort. Afterwards the TEE starts the eviction of the activists in the fort.
“For saftey reasons” journalists have to stay in a closed off area with bad sight onto the eviction.
South of the fort Oetelshofen starts to cut down the forest with chainsaws and a harvester.
When the saftey distance between harvester and press gets to small, the press area gets moved even further away from the eviction.
The police gave every treehouse or structure a number. Everytime a structure is going to be evicted, cops make to announcements to leave the structure voluntarily.
If the activists don’t follow this order the cops evict them by force.
The Tower got evicted without any resistance. Three people get taken in custody.
Next the cops evict a treehouse next to he fort.
Meanwhile the police moves the press area a bit closer to the situation.
Presumably the TEE evicts another person out of a truss in dusk and takes him*her in custody.
On the first day of eviction at least six activists get taken in custody.
The treehouse high above the fort is still inhabited and the whole North part of the camp too.
Some cops stay over night to secure the progress of the eviction.
According to the police an officer hurts himself while driving on an ATV on the morning and gets taken into hospital.
Furthermore two treehouses in the North camp got destroied and the inhabitants taken in custody.
Because in the morning no press was in the South part of the camp, activists ask on Twitter at 09:17 for journalists documenting the eviction.
It seems at least four structures are still inhabited. At the edge of the forest close to the quarry the TEE evicts an activist out of the trusses in front of a treehouse.
Therefore two cops climb up the trees next where the truss is installed and mount an additional rope to the truss. Now the truss the activist is hanging on gets cut and with the mounted rope the police can lower the activist slowly.
The TEE hands over the activist to the BePo once they reach the ground where the police takes the activist in custody.
Another two inhabitants of the same treehouse leave it and climb up into the crown of the trees.
At the same time Oetelshofen cuts down the forest from two sides. While trees crash onto the ground the activists sing “every tree counts!”.
Because the treehouse is now no longer occupied the police destroys it. According to the police spokesman the tactic is to destroy the warming structures so the activists have to stay the night in the trees. In case they get through the cold night the police would build a gravel road here too and evict the people from great hight with a lifting platform tomorrow.
One person gets evicted from a lower treehouse between the North and South part of the camp with a small mobile lifting platform and taken in custody.
Meanwhile the TEE climbs onto the biggest treehouse of the North camp. The inhabitants left the treehouse before and climbed up into the crown of the tree. After the police searched for evidence they destroy the treehouse.On another structure a person gets told to leave the structure. Immediately after the first announcement the person comes down and identifies herself with a press card.
But nonetheless the photographer gets a sending-off and according to her own charged for unlawful entry.
The southern part of the camp is nearly unrecognizable. Where the Tower and kitchen of the fort stood yesterday, the police has destroyed everything.
A big pile of rubble makes it hard to guess where which structure stood once. Since yesterday a big chunk of forest go cut down and a gravel road leads right into the former fort.
On this new built road comes a big lifting platform now, which is going to evict the last person in the South camp from a treehouse 30m above the place.
It takes a long time to stabilize the machine on the gravel ground so the sun is already setting when the person gets evicted and taken in custody.
Because it is to dark now for the TEE to work safely the climbing police can’t destroy the treehouse. In collusion with the police Till Iseke, the manager of Oetelshofen gives the order to cut down the tree with the treehouse inside.Therewith at the end of the second day the whole Southern camp is evicted and destroyed.
(Unfortunately we aren’t there on the third day. So this summary is based on external input)
While Oetelshofen incessantly cuts down the forest in the Northern camp a gravel road gets built, so the remaining activists can be evicted with a lifting platform.
Translation of the Tweet:
“ Between 11:00 and 11:30 in total 4 persons got evicted in the Osterholz forest. Two of them got medical care due to suspected hypothermia. Two others got carried away (unkown reason) Maybe transportation into the hospital by an ambulance. As soon as more information are received, you will hear from us”
Around 15:20 all activists are evicted out of the forest and the police finishes their work. A few cops stay in the forest to protect the ongoing clearance of the forest.
Even on the days after the eviction the vigil is still happening.According to the initiative “Osterholz stays” all 15 people freed from custody on 28.01.2022.