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From: Jo Makepeace (firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: SchNEWS 579, Friday 10th March, 2007
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2007 20:35:17 -0000
3 days of rioting follow Ungdomshuset eviction
CARNIVAL OF CHAOS KICKS OFF IN COPENHAGEN AS EVICTION SPARKS RIOT
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The eviction of the four storey Ungdomshuset (literally: Youth House) in Copenhagen sparked three days of rioting and forced the Danish state to close its borders to foreigners coming to join the solidarity struggle.
Born out of the eighties squatter movement, Ungdomshuset was a rallying point for disaffected punk youth in Denmark and achieved a level of international fame through its massive gig space, a regular stop-off for bands on European tours. It also played host to a vegan kitchen, T-shirt printing, cinema, infoshop and was a place to meet and organise. To many who passed through its doors, it assumed a central role in their lives, and lived up to its name with the vast bulk of its scene made up of people under 25.
It was originally given to the squatter scene in 1982 by some quirk of Danish social democracy that requires the state to fund the rent on buildings used by the youth wing of political parties. In effect the punks were given the building in return for stopping squatting elsewhere. However times change, and pushing the gentrification agenda in 2000, the state began making noises about reclaiming the house on Jagtvej 69 and flogging it to developers (for a cut-price £250,000). The house residents responded with a huge banner on the roof saying "For sale along with 500 autonomist stone throwing, violent psychopaths from hell". Funnily enough local property tycoons decided to steer clear of this golden opportunity.
Enter stage right the Faderhuset - literally Father House - a sect of fanatical right-wing Danish God-botherers whose manifestation on Earth, Ruth Evensen, claims to have a direct line to the Almighty. The Father House gained notoriety in Denmark by teaching creationism in schools and parading around Norrebro (home to Ungdomshuset and the most racially diverse area of Copenhagen) with crucifixes and Danish flags bearing the slogan "Denmark is Christian". According to Ruth the eviction of the house was nothing more than an expression of God's will. In a church service after the eviction - guarded by lines of riot police - she triumphantly announced, "The young ones in Norrebro are beset by demons, but we have witnessed just now that God is victorious over Satan. The next step for Faderhuset is to fight the practise of homosexuality, paedophilia, pornography, abortion and satanic toys" (not sure if that includes Lego).
After a five year court battle, Ungdomsghuset lost possession of Jagtvej 69 to Faderhuset on 14th December 2006. For the first time the place was officially squatted and a banner proclaimed, "Troublemakers of the World; We bid you Welcome!" Two days later, there were riots involving 2000 people, described by Danish police as the "worst since the Second World War".
At this point support began to pour in. The punks' struggle to live in a free space struck a chord not only in their neighbourhood, but with Danes who are angered by the rightwards lurch their country has taken in recent years (the ruling Liberal party is propped up in their coalition by the overtly racist Danish People's Party). One activist told SchNEWS, "A lot of people got involved - the whole mood of the neighbourhood changed. Norrebro is an area with a long working class history: it was the birthplace of the Danish workers' movement. The house was the venue for the declaration of International Women's Day in 1910, whilst others left it to fight fascism in Spain in the 30s. From being an insular punk scene, Ungdomshuset became a cause celebre with people from all walks of life getting involved."
As in so many places, non-profitable space is under siege in Denmark. Probably the most famous example of "free space" is Christiana, also in Copenhagen, where residents have lived outside the state's control since the 1960s as part of a 'social experiment'. It is feared that the eviction of the Youth House is a dry run for an attack on Christiana - itself conveniently situated on prime building land - which the Danish government has seemingly already begun to target (see SchNEWS 513)
A 'trailer' for the expected eviction was produced promising big trouble if the state moved in on the punks (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcdbeTKnx5s). An explicit warning is given - "Take away our house and we'll run amok!". Maybe punk isn't dead after all...
March began with a surprise eviction raid at seven in the morning, spearheaded by anti-terrorist police in helicopters. Cops abseiled onto the roof and gained entrance with the aid of two giant cherrypickers. The entire building was coated in foam to prevent retaliation with molotov cocktails. A fifty metre area around the house was sealed off and the forty occupants were arrested.
As promised with the slogans "either an Ungdomshus or a battle for an Ungdomshus - the eviction will never be forgiven", rioting soon broke out across the city, particularly in the immediate area in and around Christiana. Barricades were built and defended, cars set on fire and police vans attacked with molotovs and paving slabs. The eviction caused a major upheaval as people of all ages and a substantial portion of the immigrant youth attacked the police. Our eyewitness told us, "I saw people of sixty setting fire to cars..." The rioting took two days to subside and forced the police to import vans from Sweden as so many of their own were out of action. Anyone who tried to cross the border with even a hint of a mohican was turned back. Over six hundred arrests were made. As our eyewitness drily said, "They wanted to keep people off the street - It didn't work."
On 3rd March, police organised a wider crackdown against the anti-authoritarian movement. In raids ostensibly aimed at foreign activists, around 90 Danes were arrested. Most were known activists and they include almost all of Ungdomshuset's legal team and the local Anarchist Black Cross.
The demolition began on March 5th. Logo-obscured plant machinery driven by masked workers destroyed the building. However, sabotage action has already begun against those companies involved. One firm, 3x34 Transport, backed out of the demolition process after two lorries were burnt out. Ungdomshuset had a worldwide significance in the DIY/Punk scene and there have been solidarity actions all over the world, outside (and inside) Danish consulates.
A final word from our man in Copenhagen: "Of course people are very upset at the loss of this special, special place, but a lot of people for whom the house meant a lot symbolically came together. It has triggered a whole movement. A lot of people are now organising for the first time. So many people got involved in the last three months. A lot of good things will come out of it - a lot of people who don't want just one free house but many, many houses."
* Over 200 people are still locked up: Contact Danish ABC or see http://www.jagtvej69.dk to offer finanicial support.
* For more info on the eviction see -
* And there's a shedload of Danish riot porn on Youtube... eg -
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