Danish police raided the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania Tuesday, arresting 53 people in a crackdown on hash sales days after the conservative Danish government announced it would. About 200 police stormed the 84-acre "free city" at 5:00am, tearing down awnings along Pusher Street, destroying the sheds of alleged hash-sellers, and clearing the streets of rocks put up as roadblocks by local residents, the Independent (UK) reported.
As DRCNet reported in January (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/319/christiania.shtml), the Liberal-Conservative government of Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen has been determined to undo the three-decades-old social experiment that is Christiania, and it has used hash sales as its wedge. It was doing so again Tuesday.
"The raid is not against Christiania, it's against the hashish sale," police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch told the Independent. Munch vowed that those arrests would be prosecuted as drug sellers and could face up to 10 years in prison.
But the raid came just four days after the Rasmussen government announced it was ending a 1987 agreement with the free town that defined Christiania as a "social experiment," where residents were give the right to use -- but not own -- the land. But the government generously announced that the enclave's residents could stay -- as long as they didn't sell hash, let their homes get below code, or otherwise break the law.
"There should still be an area where there is room to live in a different way," said Finance Minister Thor Pedersen in remarks reported by the Associated Press Friday. "But it must be normalized, it must respect the laws that apply in the rest of the Danish society."
Don't bet on it, said Klaus Truxen of the Danish Hemp Party (http://www.hampenyt.dk). "The police and the right-wing Danish government try to smash Pusher Street, but they will find it cannot be done," he told DRCNet. "The open hash market will continue. They are wasting so much taxpayer money with all these police," he said.
Official Christiania -- if that's not an oxymoron -- is laying low for now.
"The whole thing is a big media stunt," spokesman Peter Pless told the AP. We have decided not to do anything unless they start tearing down our houses."