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Picking Up Pieces After Copenhagen Riots

  • March 12th, 2007
  • Posted by Charlotte Morgenthal

denmark-charlotte-_2-reduced.jpgCharlotte Morgenthal made a walking tour in the Christianshavn district, near Christiania in the city, scene of two nights of violent confrontations between young people and police, the weekend before (1-2.3.07).

Some sections were still cordoned off, and here and there floral tributes were left on street corners; maybe in honour of those tear gassed or injured, or maybe in memory of the famous squatters’ haven, now closed down, at the centre of the trouble.

Protests began after an eviction order was served on the centre, the Ungdomshuset, a hub for underground youth culture in Copenhagen since the early 1980s.

Spontaneous rioting followed, and there was organisation; radical left groups called in supporters from several other European countries, some from as far away as New Zealand or the United States.

Crowds of young people up to a thousand strong threw cobblestones or petrol bombs, set fire to street barricades or parked cars, and broke shopfront windows.

Police used tear gas for the first time in Denmark in several years.

They arrested over 600 people; at one time more than a quarter of those being pulled in were from other European countries.

The centre was a mecca for marginalised youth and many considered it belonged to them, after authorities gave permission for squatters to stay on there over twenty years ago.