Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

Happy environmentalists on their way to the 12December initiative march. Photo: / CC BY-NC 2.0

Prior to the demonstration December 12 the organizers had stated that it would be safe. Come safely to peaceful demonstration was one title on an article about the preparations. The article continued: “On 12 December is the great popular demonstration on the streets of Copenhagen – with 499 organizations from over 60 countries. Despite the many participants should there be no difficulty – the organizers have a grip on security.

The people behind the demonstration on 12 December has done a great job to avoid confrontations with police.

’We believe that the demonstration is in good order. We have among other demonstration guides from the union, and we have held several meetings with police,’ says Knud Vilby, press spokesman for the demonstration on 12 December.

The demonstration is divided into different blocks, each receive a series of demonstration guides. Many of the guides are from the Construction workers union MS, who also stood for the demo Safety, at the EU summit in Copenhagen in 2002. Moreover, the organizers of the rally, “12th December Initiative “, held meetings with all the more radical and potentially violent groups that have promised high and holy to remain at rest.”

The two most left wing parliamentary parties were the first to stand up on the side of the police version of what have happened on Saturday evening and thus legitimating the arbitrary mass arrest during the December 12 demonstration. They together with the right wing xenophobian and climate sceptical Danish People’s Party could together put their immediate efforts in favour of the police while the right wing governmental parties and the social democrats except for the Conservative minister of Justice did not need to do anything as the left wing parties did their job. It is more convincing if the organizers of the December 12 demonstration supports the police views against the demonstrators than if the right wing governmental parties which were not among the organizers would have supported the police repression of the demonstrators.

First to act was the Red Green Alliance, the most left wing parliamentary party of Denmark born out of the former traditional communist party, a trotskyist party and left socialist party. This party issued a press release already on the same day of the demonstration with the title: The Red Green Alliance denounces riot in connection to climate demonstration. The official party message continued by beginning to state:

”Red Green Alliance condemn the group of “activists” who used the main climate demonstration as a cover for throwing stones at windows and police. Hence they assume a heavy responsibility, if people in the future abstain from participating in peaceful demonstrations, because one cannot know for sure what smaller groups might abuse these demonstrations for and what consequences this may have for ordinary demonstrators” said Per Clausen, climate spokes person for the Red Green Alliance.

In contrast to the claimed riot makers attacking the police with stones the press release continued by appraisal of  ”the impression of a great and beautiful manifestation of 100,000 participants” which according to the party ”showed us how we can involve many people in a way that sends a clear signal to those in power that we are many that require a fair and effective climate treaty.” and concluding:  ”This is the way to create positive change”

The press release also mentions in the end that: ”Unfortunately, there is strong evidence that many completely innocent demonstrators were detained by police and they arrested unnecessarily came to sit three to four hours on the icy ground. Together with that the police apparently played an active role in pushing troublemakers into the peaceful demonstration this points at a need for an investigation of the role of police.”

The most left wing parliamentary party here sets the tone by adopting a description of the course of events which puts the main emphasis on creating a picture of one group violently attacking the police and the police that unfortunately does mistakes. The identification with the police has gone so far that even the chronology is rearranged to fit into the picture of inherently violent troublemakers on one side, from the outset peaceful police that might do some mistakes on the other side but never have a role that needs to be put into brackets and finally demonstrators with the role to always be peaceful and send signals to those in power.

The correct order of the course of events was that no stone causing any harm to the police was thrown at all from the demonstration. What happened was that a police man was hit by a stone after the mass arrest had taken place, without being seriously hurt and at a long distance from were the mass arrest took place and far away from the demonstration. By changing the order of events main stream TV managed to make the massive police arrests more acceptable, a falsification of history in favour of the police that also the Red Green Alliance decided as important to endorse. A main stream right wing organisation could not have done it better.

Per Clausen. Press photo Mads Nissen

While Red Green Alliance was busy telling the world a story favouring a police perspective built on rumours arrested demonstrators were in deep trouble detained in the Valby special prison for climate protesters. Organisations and friends were worried about their comrades and members. The Socialist Justice party of Sweden belonging to CWI approached Friends of the Earth Sweden to get information on what was going on and what to do. 40 of their party activists from all over the world had been arrested. FoE Sweden decided to initiate a press conference together with as many concerned organisations that could be reached. Within less than half an hour it was possible to find out that any kind of organisation had their members in prison. Nature and Youth Sweden, the youth environmentalist organisation connected to the Conservation Society, Attac, Hare Krishna, Friends of the Earth from at least four countries etc. None had seen any attacks on the police or windows smashed were they had been walking in the demonstration. After a while some of the detained were released and we could meet them. One girl had a more than two inch long and deep broad wound on her wrist. The plastic straps had been put on so hard that first her hands got swollen and then when the police should cut them off they had to cut into her body to get it done. When it was possible for a few Swedish organisations to find out in such a short time about many cases there must be many more.

What was now needed was capacity to organize a press conference, a room, international press lists, ability to contact each other from our very different places were we stayed and have sufficient common message and people that had been arrested to make the press conference fruitful. The most relevant organizational actor to ask was the Danish demonstration coordinators. They if anyone had the self interest in protecting their demonstrators.

I went to Jörn Andersen, the organiser that had been most visible to international organisations during the whole preparatory process. Andersen represented the Climate Movement Denmark but was also a member of the Red Green Alliance. He had a key position as he also belonged to the International Socialist fraction in the party, a fraction linked to Socialist Worker´s Party in the UK who were the key organisers of the Global climate action days both December 2009 but also earlier. He if anyone ought to be able and interested in helping us. But he was the opposite.

The first thing he said was in a rejecting voice, did I have some facts. That I had a lot of facts about what had happened to quite a few demonstrators that were in need for solidarity and anti repression work by the demonstration coordinators did not impress upon him. He did not believe that the Danish coordinators would act and coordinate any solidarity work for the detained demonstrators. It was up to us and others to help ourselves the best we could. His party had already chosen without us knowing it and without Andersen informing us to act collectively in immediate support of false facts favouring the police. To make extreme demands on facts supporting the demonstrators was than appropriate to support the version they already had given to the press.

So Andersen’s prediction was probably correct. As the most well connected organisation in both Denmark and internationally the Red Green Alliance had chosen what side they were on and what role they claimed the demonstrators had in the immediate reaction. And to his own trotskyist fraction at the core of the whole Global Climate Action Day internationally it was more important in practice to be servile in relationship to the alliance partners than to act in solidarity with the invited demonstrators. After all the demonstrators go home afterwards but the allied main stream left wing parties and NGOs behind the tcktcktck campaign continues to be a force to take into consideration is the thinking behind this kind of reaction. To change such a first position from the Red Green Alliance needed careful attention and then there was not time for any solidarity work for those that had been degradingly treated by the police with the exception of the youth wing who protested at the prison but waited many days until the party had changed their first position to comment upon what had happened.

Klimaforum offered help instead, a computer could be borrowed at their office for some minutes, the press room could be used, the press people kindly asked by the press staff to leave a room or stay to listen to the press conference, a cell phones could be recharged at a luxury hotel by a member of a main stream Swedish television crew that were upset about the exaggerated police activity. In some way Danish Attac, Nature and Youth, Friends of the Earth Sweden and Socialist Justice party were able to get our act together precise in time in spite of cell phones lacking sufficient payment for getting on the air, internet connections getting down, email lists missing and arrested people already gone home. Somehow in spite of lack of systematic press contact work the press conference room was more than full when we started. Le Monde, L’Unita, Main stream TV from Denmark and Sweden and a lot of other media were there and the message got out.

Meanwhile had the political line by the Red Green Alliance paralysed the whole demonstration committee. It was now time for any Danish organiser of the demonstration to act on their own against the demonstrators and support the police to strengthen their perceived image among the population via mass media. Thus was the first Red Green Alliance press release followed by a statement from the justice affairs spokes person of the Socialist People’s Party, close to midnight when still many were in prison. On her party blog under the title What happened at the climate demonstration? Karina Lorentzen presented the same false story as Red Green Alliance, this time with an additional touch to exaggerate the story further. People had chosen to throw cobble stones at the police  – or others who may happen to be in firing line.

Her conclusions was clear: ”When such an incident occurs, I think we all have an expectation that the police intervene and stop such incidents. The alternative could be a smashed city, people randomly hurt or that the large demonstration was stopped and the important message to politicians not delivered. I therefore fully support that the police intervened. It meant that most of the demonstrators could continue peacefully to the Bella Center which they should be thanked for.”

Here we can see the socialist future: If we as organisers of a demonstration do not fully support police intervention we would see how the whole demonstration would need to stop, the whole city being destroyed, anyone being hurt, to not talk about the message to the politicians not delivered.

Lorentzen started her statement by describing how ”wildly fantastic” it was to walk with 100,000 other in the demonstration meeting among others a panda, a horse on a bicycle, a giant snowman, and many other funny contributions.

She also addressed after fully supporting the police intervening in a sudden questioning mood that ”Nearly a thousand people were detained. It is quite a lot and now it seems also as that the complaints from people who feel wrongly arrested, are coming in. Only 4 charges are currently been raised and it may indeed be said to be negligible among one thousand people. It could provide for a good reflection on whether the police have gone too far. The Socialist People’s Party have against this background asked the Minister to explain the course of events – now we have to get identified what happened and criticism should be used to work forward looking to ensure that innocent civilians in the future not will fall foul.”

Lorentzen than explained why her party had been against the new hooligan law package that gave the police the possibility to intervene as they did. The party warned against preventive arrests and would like to have ensured the possibility that citizens could get a chance to escape and avoid incurring a withdrawal.

The juridical spokes person of the Socialist People´s Party ends with making clear were her main sentiments are directed: ”My final reply must be that I’m fucking tired of activists who use violence and vandalism in order to draw attention to their cause. Frankly, there is no justification – and it’s wildly unsympathetic that you hide among peaceful demonstrators to perform your misdeeds. Stop it, it does not benefit the cause and it shifts focus in the most annoying way from what is important – namely a good, binding climate agreement.”

The immediate response on this blog post was sometimes overwhelmingly positive, but to a growing degree critical. “Your entire second paragraph in your blog post have a problem – primarily because the facts are not okay. We know that the black group would not ’break into the peaceful demonstration’ as you write but that they were pushed into the demonstration by the police as they would go from Højbro Plads, although it was not their intention to go along. Already here all your arguments go wrong and hence your conclusion ”you hide among peaceful demonstrators to perform your misdeeds”.

With the two most left wing parliamentary parties decided to act individually and siding with the police the rest of the Danish organisers chose the same method, avoid any collective responsibility and at times make their own isolated statement to the press to wash their hands. Knud Vilby, the spokes person of the demonstration. stated to the press that the police had acted disproportionate.

Everything was by now very clear enough to act collectively in defence of the rights of the demonstrators and against the escalation of repression. The two main newspapers in Denmark had revealed in their immediate reporting that it was the police that pushed unwilling Never trust a COP activists in black clothes into the main demonstration. These activists had published plans on the internet that they wanted to protests in the city centre and not walk with the march to the South. When this group of activists according to the advice by the police came to the demonstration some windows at the stock exchange, one at the foreign ministry and one at a bank were smashed along the demonstration route. 1 km from the stock exchange and more than 0,5 km from the bank more than 900 people were arrested and detained in a specially prepared prison half an hour after troubles started. Jyllandsposten, the biggest pro-governmental Danish daily reported that ”It was an apparently well-prepared and rehearsed policing plan, which resulted in one of Denmark’s largest mass arrests”. After the mass arrest almost 1 km away at Christiania were four cars burnt and a policemen was hit by a cobble stone without being seriously hurt.

In spite of that it was clear that the Danish state had made a massive attack on democratic rights and the police according to the pro-government daily apparently organized an ambush against the demonstration the organisers chose to act individually as persons or organisations. The strong wording among the organisers were still directed against the non existent people in the demonstrations that had thrown cobble stones hurting a policeman, not to protect their own demonstrators.

The left wing cover up

Solidarity banner at the front of the social democratic youth bloc in the 12 December demonstration. Photo IUSY

The numerous witnesses about the abuses during the mass arrests made it soon necessary to shift tactics among the Danish organisers of the demonstration. This was done in an odd way. If the first statements had been the result of the risk of not having the full picture the day after this was not the case anymore.

The way the 12 December Initiative acted was to avoid any collective responsibility and instead give free possibility to Danish organisations in the initiative to use the situation as they liked. It would last until January 7 for the main spokes person Knud Vilby of the 12 December initiative to make a stronger call for critical discussion of not the role of the organisers of the demonstration but how Denmark had acted. So many weeks after he promoted the basic police perspective story implanted by the left wing parties and media together keeping it alive, a story that directly links the police intervention with cobble stones against a policemen getting hurt. The ”fantastic experience … was only marred by members of the ’black block’ who behaved, in particular with throwing cobblestones in Christianshavn. One policeman was wounded, and I know from demonstrators – including a group of college students – that they were glad when the police intervened.”

Instead of reacting collectively against the politics of the Danish state to organize mass escalation of degrading treatment of demonstrators individualistic competition in promoting diverse policy proposals via mass media started. The extreme support by the most left wing parliamentary parties on Saturday of a police version making repression in a scale not seen in many countries against a demonstration understandable, had to be replaced by something else. And why not with a quarrel among all left wing parties on different policy proposals. Here each party could raise its profile making some discrete retreats from the mistakes the first day in a clever cover up operation in close relationship with the media.

Why should the reporters ask troublesome questions to the parties that organised the demonstration why they not together with others in the Danish 12 December Initiative collectively defended their demonstrators. It was so much more politically uninteresting to promote a politically powerless quarrel on policy details between individualistically acting parties. Popular movements and an interested public in many countries all over the world would really have been interested in why the Danish organisations that had invited 100 000 demonstrators to come to Copenhagen did not want to collectively defend them. That was the politically interesting question that the Danish media and the Danish organizations in unity avoided.

Sunday 13th of December

Waiting fr transport to the cages in the climate prison. Photo: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On Sunday December 13 the papers were full of reports how the Socialist People’s Party together with the Danish People’s Party were the strong supporters of the police action against the demonstration. Lorentzen from the Socialist People’s Party continued to back the police by stating to Ritzau, the Danish news agency, that it is difficult for the police to see who is violent and who is peaceful. “- Police have a very difficult task. When they block a street off, there might be some who may not have anything with this to do.”

“Both Socialist People’s Party (SF) and Danish People’s Party (DF) supports the Police”. Ritzau December 13
(National news agency)

Troublesome for the Socialist People’s Party was a growing negative reaction at both the blog of the spokes person of justice affairs and the facebook group of the party leader Villy Søvndal. Hundreds of people reacted often very strongly against the position of the party and many questioned their membership.

Later on Sunday Lorentzen issued a press release in which she expressed that it is wrong to arrest people before they have committed any wrongdoing. “When the hooligan package was adopted, we very much pointed at that preventive arrests are problematic because it is an interference before people have committed a crime. This means of course that you might get some in the net who have not intended to start a turmoil”.

In the Red Green Alliance it was not the spokes person for justice affairs that acted but the spokes person for climate Per Clausen who continued to intervene. In a press release on Sunday the party clearly distanced itself from any form of setting the streets on fire during the climate summit, and continued in the words of Clausen that:

”It is however also necessary that the demonstrators who not have a desire to set the streets on fire, have the opportunity to make actions. Unfortunately, it appears that police arbitrarily arrested trying to prevent this. We therefore require an examination of police use of preventive arrests and other use of force in connection with the climate summit. Particularly, we think the police attempt to prevent the press’s work must be investigated”

The original version mainly condemning people using the demonstration for throwing stones at the police had changed and the focus was now on fire in the streets and that it ”appeared” as if the police had stopped people from using their right to express themselves. For some reason the party shows special interest only in one group were they ask for extra attention in the investigation they want to be conducted, the press.

When it seemed as a slight difference between the position of the Red Green Alliance and the Socialist People’s Party emerged Clausen was not late in using it. In the press he stated that the competing left wing party was embarrassing as it did not take a clear distance from unreasonable police preventive arrests of people who have done nothing illegal. It is important both to distance oneself from violence and vandalism and the police state, he concluded.

“Broad political support for the police”. DR, (Danish public service media).

The Social liberal non left wing party in opposition to the right wing government also expressed their concerns. They accused the government for the law that had permitted the police to make the mass arrest: This law ”made it easy for the police to detain people preventively. So before they ever have done anything.” The spokes person of the social liberal party continued about the law ”We were violently opposed at the time, and we are still.”

So what many left wingers would describe as a bourgeoisie party made the opposite to the left wing parties in three ways. Firstly attacking the government and not the police or other oppositional parties to the left. Secondly focusing on that it is wrong to detain innocent people. Thirdly using emotional wording as violently not from a police perspective but rather from a democratic giving emphasis on the concern the party had from the beginning and now even more had against the law and its consequences.

This made it obvious that it was possible to mobilise a broad alliance far beyond the left wing political culture to defend the democratic rights against the new mass arrest practice. The problem was not that it was impossible in Denmark to formulate the basis for collectively denouncing the attack on the integrity of the 12 December initiative mass protest. The problem was that both the left wing parties and the Danish organizing committee were unwilling to mobilise any collective response but preferred individualistic and disperse reactions.

During Sunday almost a whole demonstration was mass arrested on the way to the harbour were a non-violent action had been announced.

Monday 14th of December

“Socialist People’s Party (SF) wriggles in the case of mass arrests”, Politiken (Social Liberal press)

The course of events threatened the position of the Socialist People’s Party which presents itself as both environmentally more concerned than other parties as well as more concerned about democracy, most often also with social justice concerns. The conservative press noted with some malicious joy correctly that many of the arrested demonstrators were members of the party that now had supported the police in their action against the members. In the middle of the day on Monday Lorenzen made one more press release to explain herself with the title: SF supports neither mass arrests of innocent, or inhumane treatment of detainees. The emphasis in the beginning is now on how the party ”fought a brave battle against both ’the Hooligan package’ and preventive arrests, which are the tools used by  Police on Saturday.”

The emphasis also have changed in such a way that it is now the government rather than the police or activists which is criticized. The blame is: ”first and foremost on the responsible government politicians …. With their constraints and the Hooligan package they have whipped up a mood and clearly signalled to police that they should keep quiet in the streets at any cost. Even at the cost of freedom of assembly.”

She continues: ”we must focus on the perpetrators, rather than uniquely focusing on the police, who simply carried out what resembles a political order. Thus it is the police who carried out many arrests, but it is the government and the Danish People’s Party, which has shed the bullets to arrest disproportionately many innocent people.”

The rest of the press release is understanding the problems of the police when 100.000 are on the streets and ”mistakes” are bound to occur. It is the law which has a too ”broad scope” that is the problem and to this end the party demands an explanation from the police and the minister of Justice. She ends by a more strong emotional language:

”I would also like to stress that it was undoubtedly necessary for the police to act against those who threw the firecracker and cobbles in the middle of an otherwise fantastic and peaceful demonstration. This behaviour is in no way an expression of democratic sentiment. We have also previously seen some cities being totally devastated by the violent protesters: Berlin, Seattle and many more. Copenhagen should not be in this row.

Therefore I can not stress enough that we can and must take a deep distance from violent activists. And I’m in short, wildly offended that firecracker throwing troublemakers allows themselves to interfere with the ordinary demonstrators”

It was now necessary for the popular party leader Villy Søvndal to intervene. Two hours after the spokes person made her third statement after the demonstration with shifting focus and different content he wrote on his facebook page under the heading: Nice demonstration – unfortunately too many arrests.

He started by stating that ”we should be happy and proud that we can hold such a demonstration in Copenhagen … that showed Danish involvement in the fight for a fair and ambitious climate agreement” He continued that this impression ”should not be destroyed by a few troublemakers.”

”From my side it can not be said clearly enough: I will by no means accept that a small group of black clad thugs try to create unrest and violence in the shelter of a great peaceful and family-friendly demonstration. For me, democracy is that people can participate in demonstrations with their small children without fear of being recruited into street fighting and stone throwing.”

He continued: ”It is the police’s task to ensure peace and order. And therefore it is of course entirely appropriate that the police intervene if there are people who are rioting. But having said that, I also think that it seems out of proportion to arrest 1,000 people, when you subsequently only bring a handful of them to the court. It is of course quite untenable that the police let people sit for hours on the cold asphalt, so that people pee in their pants, etc. It must be possible to do it better.”

Søvndal concluded by criticising the government and stating that ”My position is that the hooligan package should be abolished under a future government.”

This was news. Before the Socialist People’s Party had voted against the new law package proposed by the government but not promised that if they came to power they would abolish the law, as the Social democrats. Contrary to the social liberal party and the Red Green Alliance they voted against the law package not on principle but to gain some attention while maintaining a wait and see position. Now the party leader had decided that it was the time to declare a more stead fast opposition while the emotional rhetoric still was much in support of the police and mainly directed against activist accused of intending to use the demonstration for street fighting.

During the day the No border demonstration to protect the rights of climate and other refugees went along without problem. In the night the police intervened at Christiania were Climate Justice Action had a debate followed by a party. The police stormed into Christiania throwing tear gas and arrested people meeting some resistance.

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Social democratic youth bloc in the 12 december demonstration. / CC BY-SA 2.0

Tuesday was the time for the third left wing party to intervene, the Social Democrats. They did not see any reason to make much of public statements in the press before this as their positions on policing is very close to that of the Socialist People’s Party. But now their cooperation partner had gone too far.

The press could report that ”There are cracks in the otherwise close cooperation between Social democrats and Socialist People’s Party, when it comes to policing during the climate summit. While the chair of the Socialist people’s Party Søvndal has attacked the police handling during Saturday’s big climate demonstration in Copenhagen, a completely different message comes from the Social Democrats’ political spokesman, Henrik Sass Larsen.”

“We have confidence that the police acted properly. There is not something I would criticize the police for, ” says Henrik Sass Larsen.

Also justice affairs spokesperson Karen Haekkerup distance herself to Søvndal’s criticism.

”The police have done well. They ensured that the vast majority could implement a very popular, festive demonstration, without it being destroyed by the types here, ”

When asked if Søvndal do not understand this, says Hækkerup:

“I will not give character to Søvndal. I just think that we must take care to give police peace while they work and to show that Danes are behind them when they stand here in the extremely difficult working situation where they must provide security to the climate summit, and so that Copenhagen is not set on fire. ”

“Social democrats (S) and Socialist People’s Party (SF) disagree on police critique”, Berlingske (Conservative press)

The pecking order among the left wing parties all speaking at the demonstration was established. The one with the most privileged speaking slot at the best place and time for media attention at the demonstration, the Social democrats, most strongly and consistently in favour of the police attack on the demonstration. The two other left wing parties with less privileged speaking slots, in the beginning in favour of a police perspective making the police attack on the demonstration understandable and then in different degrees opposing the mass arrest and partly the police perspective. All avoiding initiating a collective response from the Danish organisers on the repressive politics carried out by the Danish state against climate protesters in Copenhagen. This new pecking order made it possible for the Red Green Alliance to more and more take the side of the climate protesters.

The most interesting thing with this day is how it is now revealed the way a left wing party and maybe all of them think strategically. One reason why the social democrats do not defend the demonstrators in the manifestation they themselves are collectively responsible for as organisers and among the privileged speakers is explicitly stated. It is not the way the police act against the demonstrators which is the main interest for this party, but the situation the police have when in general they ”must provide security to the climate summit”. A task presented not as related to the demonstration in the past but as a task in the present as the protests at Bella Center are not over.

Tadzio Müller distributing Turbulence at the 12 December demonstration. Photo

On Tuesday also the escalation of extreme repression of a new kind not seen for a hundred years under normal circumstances in Europe was put into practice. Police arrested the spokesman of the Climate Justice Action, Tadzio Müller, after he had held a press conference at the Bella Center with several NGOs and organizations.

This kind of targeted arrests was once common in attempting at stopping popular movements. But the experience showed in the long run that it was counter productive. By conflating the role of spokes person for a non-violent action with the possibility that someone in the non-violent action other than the spokes person might harm a policemen the state could put many people in prison. At the same time this was practical in short term as the opinion of the movement got stiffed or silenced and was an effective way to criminalize freedom of expression. But as the underlying causes still existed this caused even more unrest as well as undermined the whole rule of law with its principles of individual responsibility. Thus this extremely repressive politics had to be reconsidered.

Denmark reintroduced this state repression of freedom of expression a hundred years after it was seen as an unacceptable act against freedom and counterproductive way to postpone the solution of social conflicts escalating unrest instead of promoting political solutions. This is remarkable. How can a nation become so democratically backward that such state acts against freedom of expression reemerge without any collective response?

Line Barfod, Press photo Mads Nissen

The Red Green Alliance issued a press release with a protest. That was about all. Line Barfod, the spokes person on justice affairs of the party stated: Arrest of spokesperson is an error.

”- It is quite wrong to arrest the spokesperson from an avowedly non-violent organization. Were are we heading, if we begin to arrest the spokespersons from legal and non-violent political groups.

– Police should instead maintain dialogue with non-violent activists to ensure that their protest tomorrow will take place without violence from either activists or police, as also the activists want.

It is a very unfortunate signal to the world we send in those days. First mass arrests of hundreds of innocent protesters and now arrests of the spokespersons of the protest movement. It does not belong in a democracy.”

The Red Green Alliance also protested this day against NGOs being thrown out of the Bella Center:

It is totally unacceptable that NGOs are largely expelled from the Bella Center on Friday, when it expects to publish the outcome of the climate summit. The consequence is that critical voices will be gone and the world’s politicians will have the stage to himself and have the ability to sell a bad result as a success, says Per Clausen, climate spokes person for the red Green Alliance.

Environmental and global justice organisations made a last attempt at confronting the growing repression. Friends of the Earth Sweden, Climate Movement Denmark and Attac Denmark initiated a debate at Klimaforum with representatives from all continents in the South inviting all Danish parliamentary parties to come and listen to the views of international guests and give their opinion on repression during the COP15. Red Green Alliance turned up and the social liberal party would have liked to come but had problems on such a short notice. No other party was interested. The initiative to challenge Danish organisations to contribute to collective efforts against the repression ended in the same way as earlier, by individual statements and no commitment to act or even try to act collectively neither from a party or other formal Danish organisations.

Activist and police on agriculture protest day. Photo / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The protest action on agriculture organised by CJA, Via Campesina, Friend of the Earth, A SEED and others went well.

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

This was the day of the Reclaim power action. Targeted arrests continued against two spokes persons Nicolas Haeringer and Tannie Nybøe of CJA before the call for making the push at Bella center against the police lines were made to establish a People’s Assembly together with people coming from the inside. Mass arrests of almost a whole so called Green bloc took place at Örestad and the bike bloc also had great difficulties. But thousands marched in the main blue bloc steadfast towards Bella center.

In the midst of the preparations for the inside Reclaim power action to walk out the Socialist People’s Party leader Søvndal is interviewed at the Bella center by Jyllandsposten, the biggest and the most right wing daily of Denmark. He supports tough behaviour against violent activists, but called the police preliminary efforts too “imprecise”

“There is ‘no soft feelings’ against the violent elements who come here. It is important that police bank them when encountering them and the police must not be criticized for this. Rather, it is a prerequisite for peaceful demonstrations to be arranged. In return, they are not good at hitting accurately”

Reclaim power action from the inside encounter with the police. Photo

Soon a historically new step in the repression against popular movements takes place nearby were the Socialist party leader was interviewed. The Danish police starts to violently bank UN accredited delegates from movements that are participating in the Reclaim Power action from the inside to stop them from reaching those coming from the outside. It is the first time to my knowledge that officially UN accredited participants are beaten by police of the host country when they try to leave the official conference venue.

A People’s Assembly is finally successfully established by those on the outside surrounded almost completely by police and finally a march together to the city centre in good mood ends the mass action. In total 260 people are arrested and detained in the special climate prison in Valby during the day, some 30 pepper sprayed and 10 wounded among the activists. No reports of any harm to policemen or anything else is reported.

The youth wing of the right wing dominating governmental party, Venstres Ungdom, also expressed their concern about what had happened during the summit. The spokes person for Justice affairs of VU, Ida Swan Grevlund, issued a statement on the homepage of the organisation under the title ”The Hooligan package consequences for legal certainty”

”The 12th of December 2009 will be remembered as the day when the rule of law and its basic principles had to give way for each individual policemen arbitrary assessment of how extensively the ’law and order’ were respected. This was the day where up to 700 demonstrators during the climate summit were arrested and taken to the temporary COP15 prison cells where the detainees had to adapt to many hours of waiting behind bars in appalling conditions.

Some of the demonstrators were certainly arrested on a valid basis – it is totally unacceptable to throw paving stones and attacking police to get a political message across. But there was also an unnecessarily high number of innocent people among those arrested as the hooligan package allows the police to make the so-called preventative arrests. It has thus become legal to detain a person for up to 12 hours, only if the police deem that he possibly could jeopardize safety. Man is no longer innocent until proven otherwise, however, you are guilty even before you have done anything criminal.

It is very problematic that the police have increased powers to make far-reaching interventions in the individual’s personal freedom. Detention, as an administrative arrest of course is, requires considerable control and security. An arbitrary discretion from a tired cop is not enough if the rule of law should apply.

There have been several examples where the government has breached the constitution and the rule of fundamental parts to accommodate “’special security challenges.’ Here one can mention for instance terrorist legislation and now the hooligan package. Liberal youth do not think you can combat threats by restricting the individual’s constitutional rights. The end does not justify the means, because no situation should be able to put democracy in a state of emergency. The government’s goal with the hooligan package is to maintain security during the climate summit – but security is in no way created by undermining the rule of law.”

This statement received immediate positive comments from fellow companions:
– I could not agree more – super article!
– It is elegantly written! Unfortunately it seems that the popular mood is happy about the actions, although every third are genuine opponents to the package.
– Frederick: I have heard it and it can be only explained by the fact that some want to give up freedom for security .. It is incomprehensible to us liberals.

The continued comments differed from what happened to the Socialist People’s Party blog posts. The discussion was clearly focused on facts and principles rather than the populistic tone of both the socialist party spokes persons and many of their commentators in opposing directions although of course also here existed discussions to the point. With the statements from the social liberal party and now the more right wing liberal youth it became even more hard to understand why the left wing parties had chosen a far less coherent and at times police perspective in the way of responding to the repression.

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

The party leader Søvndal announces that he will eat breakfast with the Socialist president Evo Morales from Bolivia on his facebook blog. Søvndal especially emphasises that Morales is a winner, someone that is clearly victorious against the right wing in the recent elections. He very much looks forward to meet this winner.

The Red Green Alliance politics now more firm in the hands of the spokes person Barfod for justice affairs do not either take part in collective action but makes something out of a response from the Conservative minister of justice on the hooligan law package. The minister had responded to earlier critical questions from Barfod that ”Of course, detainees protestors would be allowed to go to the bathroom and get something to drink”. Relatives were also assured that they should be informed about the detention. ”It is in sharp contrast to the situation during the great peaceful demonstration on 12th of December, when 968 were detained.” Barfod stated in a press release.

Anti-repression demonstrators from CGT, Spain (No other carried organization banners). Photo

Others are more involved in collective organizing of protests against repression including the imprisoned Climate Justice Action spokes persons and the heavy crack down on both the inside and outside Reclaim power action, issues that Evo Morales addressed as speaker at the UN Conference but something Søvndal stays out of doing something about. In front of Christiansborg a fast organized vigil with protesters stating free the political prisoners and     takes place in the afternoon. The action is small, the media interest big.

At Klimaforum a seminar on popular movement cooperation against repression started. It was organized by Friends of the Earth Sweden, Climate Collective and others. A problem was that the Climate Collective preparing the seminar all were in prison.

At Valby hall not far from the climate prison thousands of people gathered to hear the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Morales speak. They mainly addressed climate issues and the need for socialism but also strongly protested against the police repression in Copenhagen. The Danish left wing organisers continued to avoid any collective response to the repression and support the demonstrators as well as the opinion of Morales and Chavez. The biggest indoor mass meeting during the whole climate summit perfectly placed for making a call for action against the repression of the climate justice movement was not used for this at all. The Danish left did see no need in supporting international solidarity in spite of that they had all the chances.

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

December 18 march against repression. Photo here and below:

Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now! organized a demonstration supported by all the present international popular movements against the repression, the mass arrests and with the demand to release the climate prisoners. 1,500 people participated. The Danish formal organisations were still as passive as ever continuing to avoid collective responsibility for protecting the rights of those that had marched on their invitation in Copenhagen.


The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

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