According to the North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU), the escalation of violence after a peaceful mass rally in the Rhenish lignite mining area last Saturday was caused by demonstrators.

The accusation by climate activists like Luisa Neubauer or Greta Thunberg that there had been disproportionate police violence was rejected by Reul on Thursday in the state parliament's interior committee as an outrageous false claim.

Pure burger

Political correspondent in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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On the contrary, there were 30 criminal offenses such as stone-throwing at officials before the evacuation began on Wednesday last week.

According to Reul, during the evacuation "which was implemented in a highly professional manner with a sophisticated operational concept", 400 and during the riots on Saturday more than 50 criminal offenses such as coercion, physical attacks on police officers, bodily harm or trespassing were added.

"A cobblestone still fits between the bull's helmet and the bridge of the nose"

However, possible misconduct by police officers is also being investigated, so far investigations have been initiated against officials in five cases.

Reul said that the violence against police officers had been planned and announced well in advance - for example by the words "A cobblestone still fits between the bull's helmet and the nose bone" on a facade in Lützerath, which is occupied by activists.

Reul recalled that individual speakers shouted from the stage at the demonstration on Saturday: "Everyone decides for themselves how far they go" or "Don't let the police stop you".

After that, several hundred participants left the agreed demonstration site and, despite a court-approved ban and multiple warnings from the police, ran towards Lützerath and the dangerous edge of the Garzweiler opencast mine.

After prior warning, the police used batons, tear gas and water cannons at times.

According to Reul, among the "disturbers" were numerous people dressed completely in black, who had padded legs, arms and other body parts under their clothing, wore masks and glasses against irritant gas and had tools such as side cutters with them.

Police officers beaten with wooden slats

The police officers posted in chains in front of the fenced-off Lützerath were said to have been thrown at with stones and particularly explosive fireworks and beaten with wooden slats.

"Some of these fireworks were even specially packed with lumps of mud in order to achieve a greater throwing range." Some people also purposefully grabbed police officers' weapons.

"In some cases we have already succeeded in releasing one of the fuses on the holster," reported Reul.

A horse from the police cavalry squadron, which was also involved in the operation, was deliberately made shy with rustling rescue blankets until it bolted with the rider and galloped towards the edge of the opencast mine.

The officer was just able to jump off under the jeers and applause of the demonstrators and then stopped the horse.

Protests partly taken over by left-wing extremists

There were too many people on Saturday who did not distinguish themselves from violent criminals, said Reul.

"Our constitutional protection also says: Here, left-wing extremists have appropriated and exploited civil-democratic alliances." The storming of Lützerath, which was ultimately prevented by the police, was organized, orchestrated and controlled.

In front of a police line, people have positioned themselves who have influenced the crowd with signs with their arms.

Reul rejected the claim by activists that there were several life-threatening injuries in their ranks.

There were 14 transports to hospitals - five of them affected police officers, the rest were demonstrators.

It was mainly foot, leg, arm and hand injuries as well as lacerations.

The most serious injury to a demonstrator was a concussion.

"When the doctor at the Aachen University Hospital determined that there was only a concussion, the person who had been critically injured got up and left," said Reul.