Greta Thunberg is calling for people to join her in a protest against the expansion of a coalmine that will demolish a small German village, denouncing “police violence” against environmental campaigners resisting the demolition.

“Germany is really embarrassing itself right now,” the climate activist said during her visit to the abandoned village of Lützerath, ahead of a planned protest on Saturday.

She described the force used by police in their clearance of the protest camp earlier this week as “outrageous”, adding that she plans to join a demonstration that will show the world what people power and democracy look like.

“When the government and corporations act like this, destroying the environment … the people step up,” she said.

Demonstrators have occupied the village in the brown-coal district of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia for two years, trying to stop the expansion of the nearby lignite mine run by energy firm RWE. Some built elaborate treehouses.

The force used by police during protests has been described as ‘outrageous’. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

The German government and RWE argue the extra coal is needed to ensure the country’s energy security. However, a study by the German Institute for Economic Research has questioned this, suggesting other existing coalfields could be used instead – although RWE’s costs would be higher.

After a decision allowing RWE to proceed with the expansion, reports suggested more than 1,000 police in riot gear evicted hundreds of demonstrators from the village earlier this week.

Some protesters threw fireworks, bottles and stones at police as they entered on Wednesday morning. Others complained of undue force and said the scale of the police response, with officers brought in from other areas of Germany and water cannon put on standby, was an unjustified escalation.

A police spokesperson said the attacks on officers were “not nice” but claimed most of the protest had been peaceful. The local police chief rejected Thunberg’s criticism.

Just two protesters – nicknamed Pinky and Brain – remain, holed up in a tunnel.

“The science is clear: we need to keep the carbon in the ground,” Thunberg told reporters, after meeting protesters and touring the mine’s crater.

She compared the landscape of the mining area to Mordor, the fictional realm of the evil villain Sauron in JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. “It shows what we are fighting against, what we are trying to prevent.”

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