Copenhagen: Riots during a “Reclaim the streets” for Ungdomshuset

Sunday, Sep 24 2006, 11:01pm

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 athmosphere. I hate the fact that cristian 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 escaleting to this degree of violence.

At the beginning of this protest we started from Skt. Hans Torv where the sound van came in and kicked the party alive. We were about 500 protesters but many people joined in when they saw the cool partying. Noone wore masks or did anything provocative at the police present. Then the party started moving in the direction of the inner city. The day before we had a great protest walking all the way through town with a nice athmosphere the whole way and no confrontations of any kind. Because of that noone anticipated any troubles.

However as soon as we went to cross the brigde 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 wheather only hightened the mood. The police didn’t seem to want to start any trouble 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 of course a bit provocative but soon after we lost them walking trough some of the smaller roads near another brigde into the inner city. As soon as we got near another brigde 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 an a friend just saw a whole in their formation and jumped out through the police. We could then see police chargin the penned in people who were not fast enough to run away with batons from all sides beating and kicking people unable to move. This crowd were 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.

This police assault triggered a lot of anger in many of the protesters. At first some tried to charge down a side street near the police pen but the police hid in their armored cars wich didn’t take much note of the hail of rocks being thrown at them. Then people started building barricades in the streets close to the police pen and hurl rocks at the police cars as they passed through. The police then drove their armoured van at very high speed through the crowd forcing people to litterally jump for their lives. Had anyone tripped or fallen there was no way the van would have been able to stop in time. This of course angered people even more and some local youths decided to join in the fighting as well. Though some attempts were made, people were unable to free their comrades. However some of the people penned in for a mass arrest kicked down a gate to a backyard an managed to escape that way.

After an hour or so the riots died out.

This has been the bigger 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 what’s to come if a solution is not found. There is no way the house will be given up without a fight!