RIOTS IN COPENHAGEN
More than 260 arrests in Copenhagen during a demonstration of "Solidarity with Ungomshuset"25 Sep 2006 00:21 GMT
Ungdomshuset, a an autonomous cultural centre. Around 800 people took part in the manifestation, which started out as a 'Reclaim the Streets' party in support for the squatted space, which is threatened with eviction.
From the beginning of the RTS party there was a massive police presence which followed the group from both sides and eventually blocking the demonstration. The group then turned in another direction, after which the still cheerful and peaceful protesters were blocked in and attacked. It was at this point that masked activists built up barricades and threw stones and bottles at the police. During the confrontation police behaved very aggressively, driving people in alleyways where they were beaten, and driving their vehicles at high speeds into barricades. Even though corporate media claim it was the activists who started the riots, it was clearly the police who provoked the aggression, and initiated the conflict. Today's riot has been the most severe in Denmark for the last six years.
Problems for Ungdomshuset started years ago, but have intensified in the past 2 years when local authorities sold the place to a fundamentalist Christian organisation, which wants to make use of the place. The court cases on this issue are almost at an end, with an expectation that Ungdomshuset will be evicted, and lost to the community that uses it.
Last weekend Copenhagen was the scene of huge protests and activities against the threatened closure of the autonomous cultural centre. Yesterday over 3000 people were protesting in a peaceful demonstration, which went from Christiania to Ungdomshuset. This has been the largest solidarity action in Copenhagen for Ungdomshuset. Friday saw more than 2000 people visiting a festival at Ungdomshuset, staging bands, dj's, and artistic spectacles.
Reclaim the streets: Eye wittness acount Sunday, Sep 24 2006
I'm an activist from Denmark who participated in a Reclaim The Streets party for ungdomshuset (The Youth House). I have used ungdomshuset for a few years as a place for great parties and cool atmosphere. I hate the fact that christian fundamentalists are to take it over and i've been to many protests supporting the place. None of them like the one today. None of them escalating to this degree of violence.
However as soon as we went to cross the bridge leading to the inner city the police massively blocked the road standing in riot gear and using armored cars. This of course scared the protesters a little bit, standing in front of what looked like an army ready to charge. The speakervan informed people that they should stay calm and that this didn't affect the party. The party then simply unfolded itself on the bridge. A lot of people seemed to have joined in on the protest. People were handing out sandwiches and the sunny weather only hightened the mood. The police didnt seem to want to start any trouble even though they occasionally drove their cars back and forth a little bit.
After an hour or so the demo decided to walk back the way it came. The police then started to drive their cars into the crowd pushing it along. This was ofcourse a bit provocative but soon after we lost them and walked through some of the smaller roads near another bridge into the inner city. As soon as we got near another bridge two police drove angrily near the demo and riot cops jumped out of the vans. Then they charged the crowd with their batons. A few people threw whatever bottles they had at the officers but most just ran away. This triggered a series of attacks from all sides where the police charged with batons penning people into a little street called Rantzausgade. Me and a friend just saw a hole in their formation and jumped out through the police. We could then see police charging the penned in people who werent fast enough to run away with batons from all sides beating and kicking people unable to move. This crowd was later mass arrested. Note that as far as i could see this crowd consisted solely of protesters from the demo who didn't run fast enough. The ones who actually did throw stuff at the police were mostly able to run away in time.
After an hour or so the riots died out.
This has been the worst riots in denmark and as far as i've seen its solely due to provocative police behavior. Had the protest been allowed to go on i don't think anything violent would have happened. The riots looked improvised and unorganised. Far more importantly the use of armored police vans as battering rams is clearly a disrespect for peoples lives! Had anyone been run over i'd never forgive them.
These riots are a small taste of whats to come if a solution is not found. There is no way the house will be given up without a fight!