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2009-12-14

Using Controversial Law, Danish Police Preemptively Arrest Over 1,000 Protesters

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Saturday’s protest in Copenhagen was overwhelmingly peaceful, but there were isolated incidents of targeted property destruction. To the shock of many, Danish police made nearly 1,000 arrests. Hundreds of handcuffed protesters were held for hours lined up on the cold street. Under a newly passed law, Danish police can preemptively arrest and detain anyone for up to twelve hours who they believe is likely to break the law in the near future. Democracy Now!’s Hany Massoud produced this report. Special thanks to Spike Appel, Sky and Indymedia Denmark. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Saturday’s protest in Copenhagen was overwhelmingly peaceful, though there were isolated incidents of targeted property destruction. To the shock of many of the more than 100,000 marchers, Danish police made nearly 1,000 arrests. Hundreds of handcuffed protesters were held for hours lined up on the cold streets. Under a newly passed law, Danish police can preemptively arrest and detain anyone for up to twelve hours who they believe is likely to break the law in the near future.

Democracy Now!'s Hany Massoud produced this report.

    LUSPA PUHLT: My name is Luspa Puhlt [phon.]. I was standing just a few meters by, when they attacked the demonstration and cut out a lot of people that just participated in the demonstration very peacefully.

    UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: There was no kind of bad feelings or violence or anybody doing anything that could provoke this. It was peacefully, and I felt nothing bad happened behind my back in the rest of the demonstration. So, yeah, for me, it looks like it was very unmotivated and very unprovoked, what the police did.

    HILDA DUNWARD: My name’s Hilda Dunward [phon.]. They’re being — they’re being too selective with who they’re — they could body search everybody and then let them go. But instead, they’re putting them in custody, even though no one has done anything. What I know, and I talked to a lot of cops, and they haven’t — they don’t say — they don't know either why they’re taking them.

    LUSPA PUHLT: The difference today is that they’re allowed to do what they do today. A few years back, they weren’t allowed to just — and they tried to put people in prison. Now they have this, too, this new law, so that they can arrest anyone for nothing.

    PROTESTERS: Let them out! Let them out! Let them out!

    AMY GOODMAN: Copenhagen police ended up preemptively arresting nearly a thousand people Saturday. Another 230 protesters were preemptively arrested on Sunday during a demonstration to block the city’s ports.

    UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: The whole demonstration was to go out and do a blockade at the big companies that thinks about money over climate, and not climate and people. It was never planned to be a violent demonstration. So it’s — everybody just got arrested, and we had only been walking for a half an hour.

    SARAH: I’m Sarah. I’m from the UK Climate Camp legal team. And we saw them walking down the street and could see lots of riot cops gathering around them. And as we had expected, they were eventually cornered where we are now. And most of them, it looks like, have been arrested, and probably preemptively, which means that they can be held for up to twelve hours. And some of them have been treated not well. We’ve seen batons being used on them. And there have been dogs out, as well, that have been barking very viciously.

    FLEMMING MUNCH: My name is Flemming Munch, and I’m a press spokesman for Copenhagen police. And today we have had an episode where a few hundred young activists was trying to go to the harbor area of Copenhagen and would try to force themselves into the harbor. We stopped them here and wanted to see what they had in their purses and pockets. Some of them wanted to do that. Some of them didn’t. And then, suddenly, there was a very aggressive situation, and then we choose to make a preventive arrest.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Climate Countdown on the streets of Copenhagen. Democracy Now!’s Hany Massoud produced this report with Mike Burke. Special thanks to Spike Appel, Sky and Indymedia Denmark.

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