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Protest camp of activists in the Wuhlheide

Photo: Paul Zinken / dpa

The police have begun to clear the occupied trees in Berlin's Wuhlheide. Initially, the forces on the ground transmitted a prohibition order and asked the protesters to leave the camp voluntarily, as a spokesman for the police announced. With several loudspeaker announcements, emergency services informed the people in the camp and asked them to leave voluntarily within 30 minutes.

"All those present are given the opportunity to leave the camp independently and unmolested in a timely manner before police measures are taken," the police said.

The tree squatters, who describe themselves as queer feminist activists, say they want to use the action in Köpenick to prevent about 15 hectares of forest from being cleared for the construction of the planned road "Tangential Connection East". They occupied some trees and built tree houses.

The first people had already left the protest camp, said a police spokeswoman around 8 a.m., about two hours after the start of the operation. According to information on Twitter, the police assumed a total of about 100 people in tree houses, tripods and tents. There were about 200 emergency personnel on site, it said.

The police also justified the operation on Twitter with the significant violation of the "rights of third parties" by the camp. This means, for example, the endangerment of bystanders by blocked access roads, erected obstacles and holes in the forest floor, explained the police spokeswoman. These obstacles and holes should be eliminated in the course of the operation. The spokeswoman said that the behavior of the people in the protest camp in the past few days had shown no willingness to cooperate with the police.

Berlin's Senator for the Interior, Iris Spranger (SPD), justified the evacuation of the camp. "What we see there deviates in large parts from the peaceful character of a meeting." The protest camp is geared towards longer-term resistance, Spranger continued.

The people belong to "the radical spectrum" and are largely masked. From my perspective, the dissolution by the Berlin police is therefore an important step, because freedom of assembly is not a cover for radical protest.«

How many protesters are still in the Wuhlheide is difficult to estimate due to the confusing situation.