By Laura Paddison, CNN


It’s a stark image in 2023: Police in riot gear flooding a village, pulling people out of houses and tearing down structures to make way for the arrival of excavating machines to access the rich seam of coal beneath the ground.

Since Wednesday, as rain and winds lashed the tiny west German village of Lützerath, police have removed hundreds of activists. Some have been in Lützerath for more than two years, occupying the homes abandoned by former residents after they were evicted, most by 2017, to make way for the mine.

More than 1,000 police officers are involved in the eviction operation. Most of the buildings have now been cleared, but some activists remained in treehouses or huddled in a hole dug into the ground as of Friday, according to Aachen city police.

Protest organizers expect thousands more people to pour into the area on Saturday to demonstrate against its destruction, though they ultimately may not be able to access the village. After the eviction is complete, RWE plans to complete a 1.5-kilometer perimeter fence to snake around Lützerath, sealing off the village’s buildings, streets and sewers before they are demolished.