Saturday, March 3, 2007

Copenhagen Calmer After Two Days Of Violence

Danish police clashed Friday night with hundreds of activists protesting the forced eviction of squatters from a radical cultural centre in a notoriously rough neighbourhood of Copenhagen. More than 150 people, including minors and foreigners, were arrested during the second day of riots that erupted after a dawn raid on the Ungdomshuset youth centre in the Noerrebro district. (JENS NOERGAARD LARSEN / AFP/Getty Images via MSNBC)
Depending on your point of view, you may seek further details from the AP via the Houston Chronicle: European anarchists join Denmark rioters
Anarchists from across northern Europe flocked to join protesters in the Danish capital on Saturday after two nights of riots sparked by the eviction of squatters from an abandoned building that had been a center for young leftists and punk rockers.

More than 500 people, including scores of foreigners, have been arrested since the riots started Thursday. Authorities said more than 200 were arrested early Saturday following overnight clashes in which demonstrators pelted police with cobblestones and set fire to cars.

A school was also vandalized and several buildings damaged by fire early Saturday. One protester was reportedly wounded in the violence, while 25 were injured the night before in what police have called Denmark's worst riots in a decade.

More scuffles were reported in various parts of the city Saturday night after a day of relative calm. Dozens of police vans patrolled the streets and broke up gatherings of protesters to prevent larger mobs from forming. Police said several of those arrested were carrying Molotov cocktails or firecrackers, but that no major violence was reported.
Or you might prefer a slightly later report from the CBC, which uses the previously-quoted AP report as a source: Thousands rally to support Danish squatters
About 3,000 protesters took to the streets of Copenhagen on Saturday, two days after police raided and closed a building that had been occupied by squatters for more than two decades.

The red brick building, known as the Youth House, had served over the years as living quarters for anarchists, leftists and others, a community theatre for the labour movement, and a culture and conference centre.

The demonstration on Saturday was largely peaceful, but it followed two nights of riots over the evictions that left part of the capital strewn with broken glass and burned-out cars.

Police described the riots as the worst in Denmark in 10 years, saying more than 500 people, including foreigners, have been arrested.
Quite a different tone, is it not?

The CBC report contains some interesting background:
The riots began after a police squad evicted the squatters on Thursday. The building, constructed in 1897, had been occupied by squatters since 1982 but the city sold it in 2000, according to BBC News. The owners obtained a court eviction order, the squatters refused to leave.

Squatting is much more established as a political and counterculture movement in European countries like Denmark and the Netherlands than it is in North America. In its heyday in Amsterdam in the early 1980s, for example, an estimated 10,000 people were living in squats in the Dutch capital.
Protests in support of the Danish demonstrations have been held in Germany, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Danish authorities said Saturday that the borders would be tightened to prevent activists from other countries from joining in the fight for the building.

Rene Karpantschof, a sociology lecturer at the University of Copenhagen and former squatter, said the support from activists elsewhere is not a surprise.

"Solidarity among people has no borders, just like the Spanish civil war or the youth rebellion in the late 1960s," Karpantschof said.

"People recognize themselves in such causes."