The occupied house in Copenhagen, Denmark named 'Ungdomshuset' has functioned as a very important political and social cultural centre since 1982. It had been involved in a long political and legal battle for its existance. But yesterday morning at around 7am Danish police made an end to this by entering the roof of the building using a helicopter and start an unannouced full scale eviction. Riot-police sealed off nearby streets quickly and attacked the building using teargas. As the whole area was closed off, so documenting the action and police-behaviour was difficult. Some witnesses say that teargas and police violence was plentiful, although the eviction happened swiftly and according to police in a "relatively calm manner".
At the moment everything is but calm. Over 1000 people are reported to be back onto the streets last night and (burning) barricades blocked off some major roads in the city. Some people have been admitted to hospital. Riots have continued throughout the day and night and solidarity actions spontaniosly broke out in cities across europe: Berlin (300+), Köln, Hamburg (700+), München, Karlsruhe, Göttingen, Frankfurt, Bremen (300+), Magdeburg, Hannover, Vienna, Heidelberg, Gothenburg, Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm (100+), Flensburg, Marburg, Potsdam and Leipzig. Over the next few days many more demonstrations and actions are planned and Danish activists have called for people to make Saturday 3rd March an international day of action. Danish police have started to draft in re-inforcements from all over the country and many more activists are set to arrive in the capital in the coming days. Total arrested: 600+
Articles: Ungdomshuset evicted - Protests everywhere! | Pics of the brutal eviction of Ungdomshuset, Denmark | Police evicts social centre 'Ungdomshuset' in Copenhagen | Call Ungdomshuset Solidarity Demo Friday London [Report] | Ruths facistpolice clears the Youthhouse in Copenhagen!! (Video) | Protest against police raids | Ungdomshuset solidarity in Warsaw | Mailstorm for Ungdomshuset in Denmark | Ungdomshuset - demolition work has started | We’re Heartbroken and Furious! A report from Copenhagen, and call-out for action | Sat 10th: Pics Solidarity Demo in London [Video] | Berlin: 3000 on Ungdomshuset-soli-demonstration. Riots.
The basis-democratic, alternative political and cultural centre 'Ungdomshuset' was forcefully evicted by riot police and airborne anti-terror squads this morning. Ensuing demonstrations have seen large-scale confrontations between protestors and heavy-handed police, here is the full story from Copenhagen.
After serious social conflicts and uprisings by the autonomist and squatting movements in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the subsequent 'Ungdomshuset' was offered as part of a political compromise to the activists. The mainly young activists dubbed it "Ungdomshuset" ("The Youth House"), and started running various cultural and political activities out of there. It has for many years served as one of the only multicultural, basis-democratic collectives/community centres in Copenhagen, with the exception of the Freetown Christiania. Property rights remained in the hands of the local council, which in 1999 decided to disregard the previous political compromise and sell the house to the highest bidder.
In 2003 the fundamentalist Christian sect "Faderhuset", which had bought the property in 2001 prompted the authorities to evict the "Ungdomshuset" and its users. Despite many demonstrations in support of "Ungdomshuset" Faderhuset won the ensuing courtcase and the politicians avoided serious involvement in the conflict, despite the political nature of the case. Many domestic demonstrations saw alleged police brutality and in December an "Ungdomshuset" demonstration turned into a major confrontation between activists from all over Europe and the police. Subsequently the "Ungdomshuset" was fortified in order to avoid an eviction and return the issue to the political arena.
This morning at 7:00 AM the anti-terror squad landed on the roof of the "Ungdomshuset" via helicopters, while later in the day activists from all over Copenhagen rushed to protest the eviction of "Ungdomshuset", they were met by aggressive policemen in riot gear blocking the street arresting suspected troublemakers with many resulting injuries. The demonstrators fought back and tried to reclaim the "Ungdomshuset", but were repelled and activists took to the nearby streets and started building barricades, while engaging police in skirmishes.
The neighbourhoods has been entirely shut down by local residents and activists: actions and demonstrations have taken place all over Copenhagen with more planned for the following days and weeks. While sympathisers from all over Europe have been rushing in, although police are attempting to detain suspected activists at the borders. Furthermore solidarity demonstrations are under way in Germany, Norway and Sweden.
The house has functioned as a political and cultural centre, home to political demonstrations, political debates, concerts and many more cultural events since 1982. It has served as a basis-democratic remainder that 'another world is possible' until this morning. The actions of solidarity taking place all over Europe, as well as Russia and Australia are greatly appreciated. Please join in and support the struggle for autonomous commons and the resistance against the neoliberal repression. The homepage of "Ungdomshuset" has been shot down but a mirror has been set up (in English). Also there is a short video-introduction produced before the eviction.
Last night confrontation continued way into the night, with much of the activities being centred around Freetown Christiania.
Danish media (www.dr.dk - danish language) reports strong support in the local area despite the damage caused in the riots yesterday.
More than two hundred activists and protestors were arrested last night and most have faced judges today and are detained for a minimum of two weeks.
There has been acts of solidarity in poland, germany, finland, turkey and england today (please add any further information)
Danish police are coming in from all over the country to defend the Christian sect 'Faderhuset' (not related to the Danish Church) and their newly acquired Ungdomshus.
Today there has been minor skirmishes leading up to the major meeting at 'Folkets Hus' (the people's house'), which was closed to press and police. Tactics, actions, demonstrations and so forth were discussed, the rest you will have to figure out on your own.
Currently a number of activists as well as at least one major demonstration, potentially containing a couple of thousands of people is nearing the area of 'Ungdomshuset' ( see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGvtpgm12Rg).
The demonstration has just seen the first cobblestones and molotows thrown as the police attempt to disperse the demonstration, teargas fired... more information to follow.
At 4 am, around 400 people had been arrested over the last couple of days, including people from Norway, Germany, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Sweden, Poland and more.
the danish state asked swedish police for help.
Youth House vs. Father House
There are certain things that jump out at you as soon as you arrive in Denmark. One thing you’ll notice, especially if you come from a place within that large mass of the world that is at least a bit closer to the equator, is that there is rarely anything you’d call direct sunlight. It’s twilight most of the time. In the summer it’s only really dark for an hour or so, but it’s never completely light, either. In the winter it’s dark most of the time, and the darkness is often accompanied by a cold, light rain.
You’ll also quickly notice that there are far more people with blond hair and blue eyes per capita than just about anywhere else you’re likely to have been, and at any given time, a vast number of them are riding bicycles. All the cities feature elegant networks of bike paths and lots of pedestrian-only streets. The country is largely designed for use by bicycle, train and foot, and most people think this is as it should be. There is universal health care and higher education, and every Dane I’ve ever met thinks that this is self-evidently a good thing.
While Denmark may be an easy place to be a social democrat, it’s different if you’re an anarchist squatter. If you reject the notion of private property you are outside of the social contract. If you think that when a building is abandoned and empty, people have the right to move into it and make use of it regardless of what individual or corporate entity officially owns it, you are a pariah to be vilified, violently opposed, or bought off, whatever works.
It’s early December, 2006, and along with the scant sunlight and the blonds on bicycles, another thing becomes quickly apparent. Some people have been hard at work with large posters and cans of wheatpaste, and the city of Copenhagen has been blanketed with a picture of somebody’s fist and the words “Ungdomshuset – the Final Battle.” Below that are more specific bits of information – the Final Battle is taking place between December 13th-17th, and so on. Tattooed on the fist are the numbers “69” for 69 Jagtvej, the address of Ungdomshuset. Ungdomshuset means Youth House – using really literal names like this is very common in Scandinavia.
The Final Battle may not make the news in most of the world, but in Denmark it will be material for headlines. Ungomshuset is the last anarchist-run, squatted social center in Denmark outside of Christiania, and an institute of iconic significance throughout Scandinavia. I’m on a tour of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and in every city I visit it’s easy to find posters alerting people to the Final Battle, encouraging everybody to get on the buses that will be headed to Ungdomshuset from Oslo, Trondheim and even as far away as Moscow, rumor has it.
The 1980’s was the heyday of the autonomous movement in Denmark, Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Thousands of mostly young people squatted hundreds of abandoned buildings in dozens of urban centers, creating alternative societies that embraced community, art, music, and a culture of resistance that rejected consumerism and empire. A community was formed that rejected the domination of the world by multinational corporations and the governments that supported them, whether they be outright militarist states like the US or more watered-down NATO members like Denmark. They defended their squats in pitched battles with police, and at the same time debated sexism within their movement and organized protests in support of refugees and against nuclear power. The movement existed in a near-constant state of siege. Many squats were ultimately taken by force by the police, and others were legalized.
Not far from Ungdomshuset is Bumzen, one of the now-legal former squats, which still has the dynamic atmosphere of a squat, with residents constantly making artistic and structural improvements to the 5-story building in which they live. Most of the residents are actively involved with day-to-day life in Ungdomshuset. They run Ungomshuset’s infoshop, sell beer behind the bar, organize concerts in one of several performance spaces, use one of the many rooms on the upper floors as rehearsal spaces for bands or rooms for holding workshops, meetings, film screenings. They cook vegan meals for the community using the massive pots and pans in the kitchen.
I remember one of the first times I played a concert at Ungdomshuset. There I was in the bar surrounded by black flags with skulls and crossbones, and people of all ages, but mostly in their 20’s, mostly dressed in black, except for the glittering silver of nose rings, lip rings, eyebrow rings and other various facial piercings. There were probably a hundred people in the room, most of whom listened to a lot more punk rock than acoustic folk. It was a standing room-only situation, but when I started playing there was silence in the room, and everybody was listening to every word.
Everybody in Denmark learns English in school from an early age, but there are still various levels of English fluency. Nearly all the anarchists of Copenhagen speak English extremely well, and often a couple other languages to boot. They are a highly educated, well-traveled bunch, as accustomed to discussing World Bank policy or the history of Spain as they are to defending themselves against marauding police. The peak moment of the autonomous movement in Denmark may be in the past, but to hang around Ungdomshuset you get the distinct feeling that you are in the center of a movement that is far from waning. You get the feeling you are in the midst of a force of nature, a militant but thoughtful phenomenon with a collective sense of itself.
I played that show years ago, and some of the folks from behind the bar took me to Bumzen a few blocks away, where they put me up for several days. They showed me to my penthouse suite, a sort of attic space with a little porch overlooking much of the Norrebro neighborhood. Before I climbed the ladder that led to my little room I was handed a clean duvet for my bed, a lamp, an alarm clock and a bag of pot. (They had ascertained I was a hippie and correctly surmised I would appreciate such a thing.) Looking around my attic apartment, on the little porch overlooking the street far below, lit up by the moon there was a large box full of empty bottles. Bumzen may at that point have become legal, but there was still the problem of the occasional gang of Nazis, who don’t like immigrants or anarchists, and it’s important to be prepared.
Now in the last month of 2006 and back at Ungdomshuset, I’m about to play another concert. The place is bustling even more than usual. Adam, a member of the collective, asks me if I want a tour of the place. I’m tired from hours of driving and not thinking clearly, and I ask him if anything’s new since the last time I was there. “The barricade-builders have been hard at work,” he replies.
Ah yes, it’s the beginning of the month, and for some weeks now the community has been in high gear. The battles in and out of court have apparently been lost, and this squat that has been a flourishing social center for 25 years is facing it’s biggest challenge. In a bizarre twist, a rightwing Christian sect called Faderhuset (Father House) has bought the historic building with the intention of destroying it. The leadership of this sect seems as intent on levelling this well-known anarchist center as it is intent on making money in the real estate market.
The 5-story building that is now Ungdomshuset was built in 1897 by the Danish labor movement, and was for many decades known as Folkets Huset (People’s House). VI Lenin spoke there before he launched the Russian Revolution. The Second International took place there. From that house the first International Women’s Day was declared. It fell into disrepair in the late 70’s. A supermarket chain bought it, wanted to level it and turn it into another supermarket, but the city wouldn’t allow the destruction of the historic building. When it was squatted by the anarchist youth and declared Ungdomshuset in 1982, the city eventually decided to let them keep it, but there has always been contention over this, and over who was the official owner of the building.
For the first time since the building was squatted, a majority of the Copenhagen city council is in favor of the house staying, but they say there’s nothing that they can do, it’s owned now by Faderhuset and property law is property law. Half the well-known bands in Denmark, it seems, are playing shows in the house during the first half of December, and lots of prominent artists and other public figures are speaking out in support of the Youth House. “Ungdomshuset blir” – Ungdomshuset stays – has become the rallying cry for all self-respecting leftwingers in Denmark. Anarchist youth have organized many protests in recent months that have been met with wanton police brutality. Some of the brutality has made national news, but the protests and the brutality continue unabated.
Politicians have tried to negotiate with Faderhuset to sell the building to a leftwing foundation that would then give it to the youth, but there is no negotiating with this Christian sect. At the same time as the negotiations are happening, the government is preparing it’s armed assault on Ungdomshuset. Rumors are flying, and one of them is that the police force that will attack the house will be comprised entirely of volunteers – cops who really like the idea of beating up punk kids.
Inside Ungdomshuset, preparations for the defense of the building are making it look more like a medieval castle with each passing day. Two of the most talented barricade-builders were arrested at the last protest at the headquarters of Faderhuset, and are both facing deportation to North America. Massive beams of wood reinforced by steel are blocking doorways and windows, and if one defense is breached there is another beyond it. I’m reminded of other heavily-armored buildings I’ve been to, like when I had to go to the US embassy in London to get a new passport, or when I visited Sinn Fein’s headquarters in Dublin.
In past assaults, the police have gone onto the roof or, using cranes, through the second-floor windows, rather than attempting to ram through the formidable barricades on the ground floor. There are too many windows to turn the entire building into the kind of fortress the ground floor has become, but no effort is being spared to do just that. The upper-story windows from which you could once look out at the neighborhood are now completely barricaded, and the only light that shines within Ungdomshuset now is artificial.
The most famous rock band in Danish history, a leftwing band that has been putting out great music since the 60’s, Savage Rose, played at Ungdomshuset on December 13th. Over the following weekend, thousands of Danish supporters of the Youth House, along with thousands more from all over Scandinavia, Germany and elsewhere in Europe took part in protests and other actions that the press was generally describing as the worst riots in Copenhagen since 1993 (during the battle over whether Denmark should join the European Union). That weekend had been set by the city as the day the youth had to vacate the premises. But with posters all over Scandinavia alerting all to the Final Battle, the city changed it’s mind, and is now saying that they will set the date when the house must be vacated later.
Later, after the Youth House’s supporters have long since gone back to their countries of origin. Later, probably later at night, probably at 4 o’clock on a Monday morning, after the previous evening’s activities are long over, when the only people up are the few dedicated collective members on guard duty. Perhaps the barricades will hold off the police long enough for a call to go out to supporters across the city, in time for them to watch the building get stormed by 300 heavily-armed riot police backed by battering rams, cranes and helicopters.
But history has not been written yet, last-minute compromises have been made in the past, and support for the Youth House within Danish society is steadily growing as the days go on. The unions have said that they will not work under conditions that call for police protection. Without them Faderhuset would have to try to find sufficient scab labor to demolish the house and build something new in it’s place. No small feat in a country where the vast majority of workers are unionized.
The Final Battle for Ungdomshuset will probably come in one form or another. Many people are predicting late January. But how the dance between the autonomous youth, the authorities, and civil society will play out is yet to be seen. Whatever happens, though, the Danish media will be covering it, and the international media will ignore it. For the rest of the world, there is no Danish autonomous youth movement. For the rest of the world, Denmark will continue to be the mild-mannered social democracy with blonds on bicycles who all have cradle-to-grave health insurance, where it is always twilight. Not a country where state-sponsored vigilantes smash through the windows of community centers to go and systematically pulverize children with clubs.
David Rovics is a singer-songwriter who tours regularly throughout North America, Europe, and occasionally elsewhere. His website is www.davidrovics.com.
Ritt (the mayor of Copenhagen), gathered all the Danish police in Copenhagen to prevent us from reacting, on the eviction of Ungdomshuset. That didn’t stop us. We defied everything and created history. With millitary precision the police made a surgical incision. But the boil they thought that they were to remove in a flash, soon spread all over the city and to places such as Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin, Gothenburg, Trondheim, Malmo, Oslo, Stockholm, Istanbul, Vienna, Århus, Horsens, Umeå, Karlskrona and many more places. It was covered by all the Danish media and it was the top story with CNN, BCC and Al Jazeera.
This weekend we have proven once and for all, that we are not a marginalized subculture, but a large, and growing, group of young people. When people riot on a scale like this weekend, it is proof that something is totally wrong. In a democratic country, all the alarms should be ringing, when you send in the whole police force to fight down a social and cultural uprising. But a social and cultural uprising can take on many forms. One thing is burning cars, something else is taking the fight into our everyday lives.
Now it is Monday morning. And the weekdays are back. The kind of weekdays where you go to work and school, shop for dinner and take the bus. And maybe doubt is beginning to kick in. Will the system get the last word, if you get up this morning, and drink your coffee and go to work as usual? The capitalist society has got us by the throat, but we have shown them that it doesn’t have to be like that.
When doubt sticks its head out, that is when we have to learn form it. It is there for obvious reasons. Our friends have been unjustly imprisoned in huge numbers. We have been poisoned with gas, beaten with clubs, and had our homes raided. It’s all right to be afraid. But can we continue our lives like nothing happened? NO! Cause this Monday is not like the others. The creativity and energy that has been released can be used to keep the struggle going, and we are the ones who will decide how to carry on the fight. We will keep on coming back again and again. Time after time we break the systems frames of perception. We will keep on doing the unexplainable and selfexplanatory things. The unexpected and unpredictable. We want everything.
We took a big step and showed how important this social and cultural struggle is. A struggle where so many will risk so much to get the attention of the world around them. But the struggle for more free spaces, where we can show our resistance against a tendency of normalization that only wishes to make people more effective, docile and obedient, must be fought in the schools, at work and on the social security office.
The energy we exhibited in the weekend, is the core in a society, the holds more than cafe latte, nuclear families and pension funds. Its about much more than a house. Its about our lives and the future, about how society as a whole should develop.
We have drawn the eyes of the world to a fight, that is fought everywhere. We have created history, and history will not be forgotten in one day. Even though today is Monday, the struggle continues. Don’t push away the daily routine like it can’t be changed. Use it. Tell your fellow students and colleagues about our struggle. Remember that we are many.
Now we must stand together and look out for each other. We must make big plans, and on top of that it will be great fun too. Are you ready? This is bigger than Jagtvej 69.
article snatched from danish indymedia
A terrible beauty is born.”
Friends, local and international, we are still here and we’ve never been stronger.
On the 01.03.07 Ungdomshuset Jagtvej 69 was, after a long, hard fought resistance, finally evicted in one of the largest planned police operations in the history of Denmark. An attack on one of the biggest autonomous, cultural and social centres in Europe and on freespaces everywhere.
For nearly an hour our friends fought against the police and bulldozers, with everything they had. Another victory and show of defiance against the Danish Police and State, who believed they would have us out in 4 minutes!!
The anger, outrage and frustrations manifested in a wave of solidarity and resistance not limited to the streets of Nørrebro. Copenhagen burns and the sirens have yet to stop.
Unlimited, heartfelt gratitude goes out to our friends internationally whose determined solidarity and displays of compassion continues to inspire.
Our four demands for a youth house remain. The physical and political pressure implemented by international support is crucial in pushing beyond personal and social boundaries and relations.
With this in mind we invite you back to join us once again in the streets of Copenhagen. For those who cannot come, we encourage you to take creative and militant action in your own cities, neighbourhoods and communities.
The state’s monopoly on physical force and the brutal social control by police has never been more evident. Arrests in the streets and people’s homes, leading to imprisonment and deportations based on empty charges, have become an everyday occurrence. Their mistake! Oppression breeds resistance. Through growing social communications, self activity and networking we stand together. Our anger doesn’t recede …
We don’t forgive. We don’t forget.
The struggle continues …