Radical climate protests: the rule of law has to endure it


The legal and the social judgment on climate protests are different things. You shouldn’t mix them up.

A hand sprinkled with paint

The dispute over the climate protests is escalating Photo: Remo Casilli/Reuters

The statements of some politicians after the protest at Berlin Airport show: The debate about the climate protests is escalating. Critics accuse them of a lack of democratic values ​​and a lack of seriousness in terms of content. That misses two things. First: The activists are fighting for more climate justice, a goal that no one seriously denies today. Second: The motivation of the activists is fundamentally democratic when they demand action from democratic institutions to deal with this crisis appropriately.

However, when I read the comments of some politicians on this topic, I tend to get the impression that they are the ones who lack a democratic culture of debate. Who is demanding, now all climate activists precautionary in custody and urges the police and courts to act strictly, has not understood the core of the separation of powers.

On the other hand, just as strange is the demand that criminal law should be Blockade of Berlin airport not applicable – because of the political necessity of the protest. In a constitutional state, the same applies to both cases: There is a difference between the social and the court judgment on protests. That is just as much a strength and distinction of a democratic state as the existence of a peaceful and strong civil society opposition.

So far, so unspectacular. What is spectacular for many, however, is the nature of the protest. One can argue whether Tomato sauce on glass panes (behind which expensive paintings are protected from the sun and the saliva of museum visitors) is the best form of protest. And I’m also bothered by one or the other demonstration in front of the door of my party headquarters, in which activists call on us to be even more consistent. But as long as the protest remains non-violent, we as a democratic society must endure it or, even better: take the substantive demands of the demonstrators seriously.



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