[sixties-l] You Are Now Leaving the EU: Christiania Gets Raided (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Sat Sep 07 2002 - 17:28:55 EDT

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    Date: Fri, 06 Sep 2002 11:51:44 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: You Are Now Leaving the EU: Christiania Gets Raided

    You Are Now Leaving the EU: Christiania Gets Raided


    special to DRCNet by Valerie Vande Panne

    The entrance to Christiania reads: "You are now leaving the E.U."

    Christiania, the notorious autonomous zone in Copenhagen, Denmark
    known for its open market of marijuana, hashish and psychedelic
    mushrooms, recently suffered yet another raid on August 28, the
    eve of a European Union Informal Meeting of Ministers for Foreign

    "The EU meeting is completely unrelated to this sweep," said
    Ulrick Knudsen of the Minister for Foreign Affairs office. "I
    wasn't even aware there was a sweep."

    The meeting covered EU expansion, the international criminal
    courts and issues in the Middle East. While the Foreign Affairs
    office denies knowledge of the sweep, residents of Christiania
    believe differently.

    "They swept the day all the government people came to town for the
    EU meeting," observed a merchant from the part of town known as
    "Pusher Street."

    The Danish Police were unavailable during several attempts to
    contact them for comment.

    "We never know when they're coming," said a man who owns a shop in
    Christiania selling trinkets from Mexico to Tibet. "They come
    eight to ten times a year, every year. They don't come here,
    because they know I don't sell hash."

    Marijuana, hash and mushrooms are enjoyed openly in Christiania.
    It is important to the people there that access and use of these
    items be open. Sentiment runs strong, however, against heroin and
    "hard drugs," which Christiania residents do their best to banish
    from the community. Signs declare "No Hard Drugs." One resident
    even said the fact they don't allow hard drugs is the most
    important part of the community. "About ten years ago, we went
    through and moved everyone out who did hard drugs, or told them
    they had to quit. Then, we drug tested them to make sure the ones
    that stayed didn't use hard drugs. We also set up support groups
    for them and for people who drink heavily. We try to be
    supportive, and help the alcoholics before they become homeless
    and jobless."

    "Hard drugs" might not be tolerated within the free city of
    Christiania, but they are readily available in other parts of the
    city. Cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamines are quite popular in
    other neighborhoods. The drug trade as a whole continues to be
    operated by black market gangs in both Christiania and Copenhagen,
    and occasionally there is gang related violence.

    Christiania is an enclosed community -- there are only a few
    entrances and exits. The streets are filled with "the biggest
    dogs in Denmark," as a Copenhagen local observed -- pit bulls and
    mastiffs lounge in the shade and play fight in the streets.
    Unmarked guards at the perimeter keep watch 24 hours a day. The
    residents and guards in Christiania are connected to each other
    through two-way radios and a closed circuit computer network. The
    guards keep the entire town abreast of what's going on outside --
    including when the police are about to raid.

    Even with a bit of warning, people are still arrested and goods
    confiscated. Twenty-one people were arrested in the August 28
    raid. Among the items seized, the people of Christiania seemed
    most upset by the loss of numerous display tables that were large
    and in many cases heated.

    "There are undercover officers here all the time," said the
    merchant from Pusher Street. "They are always watching."

    Due to the government surveillance, Christiania residents are not
    willing to give their names for publication. "It would not be
    good for us," says one resident. They also do not permit photos.
    Large signs declare "NO PHOTOS" -- and if one is seen taking
    photos, a resident of the community will smash the camera and
    escort the violator out of the town.

    Sean Bega, of DC Courier in Washington DC, was visiting
    Christiania the day of the raid. "It seemed civilized compared
    with what goes on in the US. It was more like they were saying:
    'We just want to remind you we're allowing this to happen. No
    hard drugs, and keep the rest in here.' It's like there is a fine
    line, and the police want them to remember not to cross it."

    Raids in Christiania are quite different then in the US. The
    police come in with shields. They do not draw their guns.
    Tourists and young people throw rocks and stones at the police,
    and the police have no reaction.

    Though the police are relatively nonviolent, the experience of
    being raided, possessions confiscated and people arrested takes
    its toll. "Even though we are a free city, the continuous raids
    make it hard for us to relax," said a young man who grew up in

    The city is filled with some of the most beautiful graffiti
    artwork in the world. Some of it portrays their view of the
    police as death. Most of the art breathes life and color into the

    One day after the August 28 raid, it was business as usual.
    Merchants had their supply, and tourists and residents of
    Copenhagen were strolling the quiet streets eagerly demanding
    their goods. Searching for a sunny spot, to sit, and relax.

    Visit http://www.berlingske.dk/artikel:aid=209688/ for video
    footage of the raid. Visit http://www.christiania.org for
    information about the community published by its members. Visit
    http://www.drcnet.org/wol/228.html#christiania for past DRCNet
    coverage of Christiania.

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