PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEXT BY DEREK CLARK
Berlin, August 2nd 2017, 6:30am. Four Greenpeace protesters hang from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure building. Police have yet to arrive and other than a handful of Greenpeace people on the roof and a few more with banners on the ground, there's no sign of the circus that will unfold. I’m the only photographer on the scene at this point.
I spoke to one of the Greenpeace people and she told me that a meeting between government officials and car manufacturers was scheduled for later that morning, but no press or NGO's were invited or aloud inside. She handed me a leaflet (in German) that explained more about what was going on and asked if I was aware of the diesel fuel scandal that had went on involving omission figures being tampered with by car manufacturers.
Police arrived shortly after that and then TV crews. Greenpeace was only part of the demonstration and soon many more protesters arrived holding bicycle bells in their hands that rang out constantly. Giant cars were inflated and a huge amount of cyclists arrived on the scene. Diesel cars had been clamped on the street at the side of the building.
By 9:30 the event was in full swing and protesters held sings up for TV cameras and press photographers. A large police presence stood by and observed the event, but didn't intervene except to make sure photographers stayed off the road. The event looked like a big success for the protesters, and by midday the inflatable car was deflated, as was the main protest. The press had gone, but TV crews remained. Only Greenpeace and a few police officers remained.
At 4pm the Greenpeace protesters started to move back up towards the roof with the help of their comrades. They had been suspended in front of the building on ropes for ten hours and police presence was growing rapidly again with the prospect that this protest was coming to an end. Men in suits were being interviewed by TV reporters and I spoke to a German Greenpeace member. I asked if he expected the people from the roof would be arrested. He wasn't sure, but police had gone to the back of the building to meet them as they came down. He said that police would take their details at the very least.
This protest comes only one week after governments (including the UK) made a pledge that all new cars would be electric by 2025 to combat pollution. But this wasn't far enough for some green organisations.