Copenhagen Protests

Dec 27, 2002

Copenhagen Protests, 12-15 December 2002

Thousands of activists gathered in Copenhagen on Thursday the 12th to Sunday 15th of December to protest against the European Union Top Summit. Globalise Resistance joined in and defied the freezing cold Scandinavian weather during this weekend of protests against the neo-liberal policies of the European leaders.

Thursday

The protests started with a demonstration calling for a boycott of Israel. Around 1000 people gathered in Raadhuspladsen and later marched through the Danish capital, with slogans like Israel out of Palestine, Boycott Israel and stop EU’s free-trade agreement with Israel.

That evening some Italian activists were arrested in central Copenhagen, among them Luca Casarini, who functioned as a spokesperson during and after the protests at the G8-meeting in Genoa 2001.

Friday

A demonstration of about 1000 people, mainly from Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Finland, moved towards the centre where the EU-heads held their meeting. The demonstration both went under the label of non-violence and civil disobedience.

A section of “white overalls” paved the way through the first (plastic)-barricades and into the so-called “red zone”. But when reaching the second police blockade, which consisted of 11 police vans, the march stopped around 80 metres in front of it. There the demonstrators read out why they protested against the undemocratic EU, before turning back towards the alternative city Christiania. At around 5pm about five thousand people gathered for a demonstration against racism and fortress Europe, organized by the Initiative Towards a Different Europe. Amongst the speakers was Julie Waterson from the British Anti Nazi League. The protesters marched around the city with vans playing music leading the way. A big part of the demonstration was the anti-war bloc calling for a stop on the war on Iraq.

Saturday

On the day of the big international demonstration, in the morning the antiwar-bloc marched from the refugee centre, where most of the activists were staying to where the big demonstration was to start.

Over 10,000 people met at 11 am at Christiansborg, a castle housing the Danish government for the demonstration ‘Our world is not for sale’ – ‘people before profit’. The demonstration consisted of socialists, anarchists and other groups such as ATTAC and the labour unions all agreeing that – another Europe is possible.

After letting the protesters move through the streets for several hours the police suddenly put on their helmets, allegedly after some demonstrators had thrown bottles at the police.

Marching through the capital the demonstration split into three parts: The Disobedients marched to the prison to demand that the Italian activists who had been arrested on Thursday be set free; the anarchists marched against a police state, and the rest of the demonstration continued to the NGO-meeting in Raadhuspladsen.

After a while the anarchists joined the Disobedients at the prison before marching back towards the city centre. When the demonstration was almost finished and moving towards Israel’s Plads, at around 6 pm, some minor scuffles broke out between police and protesters. This is said to have started because the protesters got angry at the police-provocateurs dressed as activists who were seen all along the route of the demonstrations. According to the police a few bottles were thrown at them or at uniformed police.

Six people were arrested at this incident, mainly for wearing masks, which is illegal in Denmark. As identified by the media, one of the six was an undercover police officer.

In total around 15 protesters were arrested for wearing masks.

Sunday

Sunday was a day of meetings and discussions, At the NGO-forum Stop the Violence a big anti-privatisation conference was held and in the city centre there was a conference on women’s rights.

The Italian activists who had been arrested on Thursday were set free but deported out of the country.

Overall the weekend was peaceful but leaving most of the demonstrators furious at the behaviour of the police. They continually harassed the activists with identity checks once they were in the city and the heavy presence of under cover police officers disguised as activists whose sole purpose was to provoke the crowds.

It was very encouraging to see the antiwar movement in Scandinavia, beginning to stir and wake up. Activist groups in Sweden, Norway and Denmark are now focusing on making February 15th a bigger international day of protests against the war in Iraq.

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