Danish police are maximising their use of the new protest package of laws, arresting over 1000 COP15 protesters in the past week, writes Jeppe Funder.
One week into the COP15 and protesters are taking to the streets of Copenhagen. Police are using the recently passed protest package laws to the full, having detained more than 1,000 protesters for up to 12 hours and charging only six of these.
Hundreds of protesters under arrest were forced to sit on the cold ground for up to five hours before being taken to the special detention cages on the outskirts of Copenhagen.
By far the largest protest of the COP15 took place on Saturday, where up to 100,000 people were involved. The huge crowd started out at the Danish Parliament and was en-route to the Bella Center, where COP15 is taking place, when police made their presence known by arresting between 3,400 protesters in a pincer movement at the back of the demonstration.
According to the police the arrests were made because some of the protesters from the so-called ‘black block’ began throwing bottles and stones at police and buildings along the way.
“This particular group had earlier been throwing stones and fireworks, just as windows had been crushed in respective buildings of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Børsen,” the police stated.
Reports from the police also included protesters attempting to set cars on fire.
Detained protesters had their hands tied with plastic strips and were made to sit in the streets for up to 4 hours. This has been widely critisised and the police have apologised, saying that they were overwhelmed by the sheer number of arrests and were not able to transport the protesters to the custom-built detention cages.
In a press release, they noted, “Copenhagen Police will evaluate if there is an opportunity for a faster way of transporting detainees away from the scene in the future.”
The largest portion of the protesters walked along the route to the Bella Center passing by heavily guarded McDonalds and KFC restaurants while chanting, singing and dancing in the cold Danish winter. NGOs such as Greenpeace and 350.org and Danish parties as Socialistisk Folkeparti were represented at the protest.
According to police, protesters from more than 20 different countries have been detained. If any of these are charged with active protesting or disturbing the public peace, they risk deportation.
Danish progressive website Modkraft.dk states that more than 600 people are sending complaints to the police about their arrest.
Amnesty International have critisised police action during the protests.
“The number of arrests is totally out of proportion and innocent protesters utilising their freedom of speach and freedom to protest have been arrested,” said General Secretary Lars Normann Jørgensen.
Danish newspaper Politiken reports that a number of arrested protesters will take the mass-arrests to court. This will put the protest package to the test before judges and decide when the police are allowed to mass-detain people during a protest.
Several protests are scheduled in the coming days.