Journalist Dies During German Police Sweep of Hambach Forest

Hambach Forest, Germany – One person has been confirmed to have died during police operations to clear the Hambach Forest to make way for a coal mine. The injury leading to the man’s death took place Wednesday afternoon as officers were attempting to remove protesters from trees, which they had climbed to prevent them from being cut down. The deceased is said to have been a journalist who fell to his death while police were making arrests in the immediate area.

Forest activists from “Hambi Bleibt” quickly released a statement regarding the tragic incident:

A friend who has accompanied us journalistically for a long time in the forest today fell from a plank bridge over 20 meters high in Beechtown and died. At the time police and RWE tried to clear the tree house village. The SEK [SWAT] was in the process of arresting an activist near the plank bridge. The man was apparently on the way there when he fell.

We are deeply shocked. All our thoughts and wishes are with him. Our compassion goes to all the relatives, friends and people who feel affected. We urge the police and RWE to leave the forest immediately and stop this dangerous operation. No further lives may be endangered. What is needed now is a moment of calmness.”

Hambi Bleibt, September 19, 2018

German police told the newspaper Der Speigel, that they are investigating the area as a crime scene. Police have also reportedly stopped their eviction operations against the climate justice activists in the wake of the deadly incident.

German police and first responders create visual barriers around the man’s body in the forest. Photo credit: Aachener Zeitung

For days, German state police have been attempting to clear tree-sits and other blockades to facilitate clear-cutting the Hambach Forest so the area can be strip-mined. Activists have been recently joined by many additional supporters looking to defend the forest, and police have made several arrests before today’s incident. Coal company RWE plans to destroy all of what remains of the ancient Hambach Forest in order to access the lignite coal deposits that lay underneath.

Since his death on Wednesday, the deceased journalist has been identified as Steffen Horst Meyn, described in a press release as a “movement journalist, blogger and activist.” Meyn reportedly took to the trees, from which he later fell to his death, after police presence and arrests meant he could no longer continue reporting from the ground.

The last posts from Steffen’s Twitter account show police in a cherry-picker attempting to arrest climate justice activists who had suspended themselves in the trees to protect the forest.

 

Title image credit: Aktion Unterholz

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