Six months ago, the 25-year old Ungdomshuset (Youth House) occupied social center in Copenhagen, Denmark was evicted by police so that it could be handed over to the new owners, a Christian fundamentalist religious sect. This led to three days and nights of rioting in the city, with observers calling it the most serious internal security disturbance in Denmark since the end of the Second World War. 750 demonstrators were arrested.
This past weekend saw dramatic street actions in Copenhagen, as activists attempted to squat a replacement social centre named “G13.” On Saturday 6th, between 3,000 – 10,000 people took part in a co-ordinated day of non-violent confrontation, which was met with heavy police repression. A total of 436 arrests resulted according to Danish mainstream media – a new record for a single police operation. Later in the evening, the G13 press group issued a statement declaring an end to the day’s action. Demonstrators made it through police lines into the G13 site, but were cleared from the building by police after several hours of occupation. Despite this, many in the Danish scene believe the day was a success. As one participant said:
Last summer we couldn’t do anything as a movement. Whatever we did we couldn’t do it together and the police and the media hated us. Then last fall we learned to throw rocks. The movement rediscovered militant tactics. Then for half a year since the eviction that tactic has played out its usefulness. So now, we’ve developed a new tactic [non-violent confrontation]. As a movement we are now able to do anything.
English background on http://english.indymedia.dk
There have been regular demonstrations on the part of Ungdomshuset supporters for the past six months, including violent riots in which police have basically given up control of the streets. In order to escalate the political side of the struggle, activists came up with a simple plan: go squat something big as a replacement for Ungdomshuset, do it in public, and make a bid for renewed public support by doing it in a confrontational but non-violent way. In a brazen display of self-confidence, the organizers released their planned starting point, as well as a full run-down of their planned tactics and the location of the building they plan to squat (an old waterworks).
The History of Ungdomshuset
Before its destruction on 5 March 2007, Ungdomshuset occupied social centre served as a central rallying point for the city’s anarchist youth. The building, located at Jagtvej 69, Nørrebro hosted gigs and meetings for nearly 25 years. Its roots as a focal point for the city’s left went back over a century.
The building was completed on 12 November 1897, with the name “Folkets Hus” (The People’s House). The house functioned as one of the resorts for the then-incipient labour movement of Copenhagen. Since labour organisations were unpopular in the eyes of the authorities, and reprisals were often carried out against them, the organisations had to build their own headquarters — Folkets Hus was the fourth of these to be built. The roots of several demonstrations and meetings were planted in Folkets Hus, and as a result it was strongly linked to the great demonstration against unemployment in 1918 when workers stormed the Danish Stock Exchange (Børsen). In 1910, The Second International held an International Women’s conference at the house, during which Clara Zetkin launched the idea of an International Women’s Day. Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg visited the centre.
For more background see the Ungdomshuset Wikipedia page.