BERLIN – German climate activists best known for bringing traffic to a standstill by gluing themselves to the road instead staged a rare protest on the move Friday, marching through Berlin and causing gridlock in parts of the capital.
Members of the group Last Generation have repeatedly blocked roads across Germany in the past year in an effort to pressure the government to take more drastic action against climate change. On several occasions, they have glued themselves to the roads, enraging some motorists and prompting accusations of extremism from conservative politicians.
Friday's protest saw hundreds of activists gather at a major road in the east of Berlin, then march very slowly toward the center, singing along the way. Police tried to get protesters to move off the road but later agreed to let the march continue along a set route.
The group said earlier this week that its members would step up their actions in the coming days and try to “peacefully bring the city to a standstill."
Last Generation wants Germany to stop using all fossil fuels by 2030 and take short-term measures including the imposition of a general speed limit of 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) on highways as a way of cutting transport emissions.
Transport Minister Volker Wissing, who has rejected the idea of a speed limit, plans to meet activists on May 2, his spokesman said. He has sharply criticized the group for its road blockades in the past.
Officials warned motorists Friday not to engage in vigilantism against the group. At some earlier protests, activists whose hands were glued to the road were violently dragged away by drivers who were angry at being inconvenienced.
“The monopoly of force naturally lies with the state and the police in such situations,” Interior Ministry spokesman Maximilian Kall said Friday. “That's an important principle of the rule of law that always needs to be emphasized.”