By: Fiona Haze and Natalia Sosna
Despite what you might think, this protest was not like every other Friday for the Future event. According to Antonia Messerschmitt, a young climate activist based in Munich, on November 15th there was “a special action here in Berlin.”
On the 15th of November, students and parents marching for Fridays for the Future gathered in the four different cardinal directions of Berlin and met in the center, Invalidenpark, slightly before 12:00. People came to the demonstration by bike, by foot or by marching. Music was playing, speeches could be heard, and phrases like, “Wir sind hier, wir sind laut, weil ihr uns die Zukunft klaut” (We are here, we are loud, because you’re stealing our future) were chanted.
At precisely 12:00, the student organizers asked participants to help carry a nine meter banner on which the phrase “Unite behind the science” was written. The banner lead the 300 protestors on a route through the city to the Federal German Chancellery. At this location the Friday for the Future participants met the Science for the Future demonstrators, and joined their silent demonstrations.
In just seconds, the crowd went from loud and passionate chants to utter silence.
In front of the Federal German Chancellery a large crowd of representatives dressed in lab coats stood in silent protest, black tape covering their mouths.The silence was prompted on behalf of a group called Scientists for the Future (S4F). S4F is an environmental initiative founded by a group of scientists in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland in support of the Fridays for the Future movement. The motto of the protest was “Everything was said, act now!” Staying true to the motto of the demonstration, they wanted to highlight the fact that science has provided sufficient evidence for the climate crisis and that it is up to the government to take action through implementing actual policies and legislation.
From local Berlin citizens to people from all over Germany, from senior citizens to babies, the climate strike attracted a wide range of different people of all ages with different reasons for being there. According to one of the scientists at the silent protests, many university students joined in response to an email chain circulating around the research faculty at the local university. While many of the young people working to organize Fridays for the Future were aware of this, some older citizens weren’t. Many have simply become dependent on the fact that environmental protests in Berlin have become a weekly tradition.
According to the lead police officer present at the demonstration, the number of participants is generally decreasing each Friday. However, many are still passionate about the movement.
One of these people was Leon, who was present at the protest with his son. While balancing his son in one hand, he pointed out the big bolded posters and the loud music as his son bopped along, snapping his fingers. Although busy, he comments on the people who choose to prioritize personal matters over the environment by stating, “Only a few of my peers attend Friday for Future and are aware of it. They do have the information. They don’t seem to care (…) Some are a bit too lazy. Some ignore it and say ‘that’s how it is’ (…) It should be a duty.”
As a student, climate strike organizer Sofia Lehman believes in acting upon such moral inclinations. In her final, hopeful remarks, she states, “[This is] something totally new. (…) I think the fact that it’s coming from the youth and school children gives us a special kind of power (…) We are doing this because it’s our future.”
With reporting from Ola Pietruszkiewicz, Zuzanna Kaczmarek, Abaigeal Lorge, Lia Lipinski, and Gyeong Eun You.