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Europe: Denmark's Christiania Residents Sue for Control Over Their Enclave

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #559)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The residents of Christiania, a 900-person countercultural enclave that had been self-governing since hippies took over an abandoned military base in the center of Copenhagen in 1971, have petitioned the Danish courts in an effort to regain control over their community. The conservative national government cracked down on drug sales in the enclave's famous Pusher Street in 2004 and later announced plans to yuppify the district.

entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen (courtesy Wikimedia)
Christiania residents have fought back. When the government announced in 2004 it was cracking down, cannabis dealers burned their own Pusher Street shops and retreated to cafes and apartments in a bid to blunt the drive. They sued the Danish government in 2006 claiming the right to use the land even if they don't own it.

Since then, there have been numerous clashes between residents and police, including street fighting two weeks ago that left two officers injured and 15 people arrested. That battle came as police tried to evict squatters. They fired tear gas at demonstrators, who responded by setting fire to police barricades and pelting police with rocks and Molotov cocktails.

"The plan by the government would destroy Christiania as we know it," Thomas Ertman, a spokesman for Christiania residents, told the Associated Press Monday.

The case is before the Eastern High Court and is set for a hearing by November 21. A decision is expected in January.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

It's inaccurate to say that the cannabis dealers on Pusher Street in Christiania burned their own stands. They dismantled them. I have talked to a number of Christianites about this event and read a number of reports, and no one ever said they set the stands on fire.

By the way, you can still see one of the more colorful stands at the National Museum in Copenhagen. It was preserved and is now on display as part of Danish history.

We are making an English-language documentary about Christiania. You can see some clips from the work-in-progress here:

Fri, 11/07/2008 - 12:14pm Permalink
Malkavian (not verified)

It's not so good what's been happening at Christiania. It's been a thorn in the side of conservatives since the "1968 youth rebellion". One part being their predominantly leftist leaning towards a different way of organizing a society (no one _owns_ anything out there, technically). The other part being the hashish sales.

What also needs to be said about the situation is that since 2004 where the massive crackdown (officially) on the hashish trade (unofficially to stress the inhabitants out there) massive dispersion of the market has occurred.

So right now as I'm writing this our local Hell's Angels and second generation immigrants are fighting a bloody gang war over the hash market. We've really "gone American" on this. It's bullets flying in the streets of Copenhagen, and one woman from work told me we're up to two assassinations on the route where she usually runs for exercise (and that's in my town, Aarhus, the second largest town in Denmark located a 3-3½ hour drive from Copenhagen.

Currently, I think both Copenhagen and Odense (third largest city here) have been declared "visitation zones". This is a very nasty thing reminiscent of martial law where police can now without reason or probably cause (or arrest) search people for weapons, drugs or whatever.

Christiania was declared a "visitation zone" years ago, and as I predicted at the time that was just the beginning. Clearly this anti-civil rights thing just had to be tested on "people we don't like" first, and once people accepted that loss of freedom it would spread to more common use.

I'm sure I need not tell anyone that in fact Denmark has the European record in drug related deaths. Been holding that wonderful record since 1996 (just a few years after we decided to "stress out" our drug addicts).

Some years would pass, though, before we officially adopted the War on Drugs. "We" did that in 2003 when the conservative government issued their ideological paper "Kampen mod narko" ("The battle against drugs"). With that our language also was enriched with terms like "zero tolerance".

Christiania is actually a very nice and peaceful place and has always been when the police just keeps out. It's not exactly my kinda place and I live quite differently, but they're nice people, and it breaks my heart that entire families have been put through all of this (especially the visitation zones).

Wed, 11/12/2008 - 4:54pm Permalink

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