Ungdomshuset News - 15th to 20th March (English translation from Modkraft.dk)
Tuesday 20th March
Shit at Raadhuspladsen in Copenhagen
The shit is being given to Ritt. This was the essence of an action at Copenhagen Raadhusplads Tuesday afternoon. Activists have covered the area infront of the steps to the Copenhagen City Hall with manure. In the middle of the stench there was a sign that read: "Ritt, it is your shit" (Ritt is Copenhagen's mayor). There were 4-5 activists behind the action, who drove a trailer with stable manure infront of the city hall and dumped it there. According to eyewitnesses present, there were police officers close by, but with their back to the shit. Shortly after 15:00 the activists were in conversation with the officers at Raadhuspladsen. The activists recieved fines and would have to pay to get the shit removed if they didn't do it themselves. At the same time, a demonstration with about 100 people started from Raadhuspladsen. It it moving towards the main police station.
Extensive solidarity work for the imprisoned
The many people that were imprisoned during the riots surroundinng Ungdomshuset have not been forgotten. An extensive solidarity campaign that stretches far over the borders of Denmark shall keep the prisoners' spirits up. An incredibly large number of people were jailed in connection with the clearing of ungdomshuset and the following riots and demonstrations. For many this has been the first time they've been in contact with the legal system, and there has been large criticism of the many preventive arrests and imprisonments.
Both human rights organistaions Amnesty International and a number of defence lawyers have, together with parents and friends, complained about the treatment and apparent randomness in the judges' decisions. Among other things, 45 angry parents of 33 imprisoned kids sent an open letter to the justice minister Lene Espersen. The parents complained about the number of prisoners and said that "the police authorities have asked the judges to imprison all they arrested, no matter what". A number of defence lawyers pointed out a problem where 45 of the young people imprisonered were due to a single officer's report, where he wrote that he had seen, with confidence, that they had thrown cobble stones.
Legal group in prison
Preparations before the clearing of Ungdomshuset had led to the creation of a legal group to help and support the people arrested, but the majority of ABC (Anarchist Black Cross) were arrested themselves when the police raided a number of places on March 3rd. The groups papers and phone was confiscated, and other activists stepped in to do the work for the group. The ABC group has since been fundraising money and clothes and working to get information to the prisoners and their families. Anarchist Black Cross is an "international network of autonomous groups that support anarchist and revolutionary prisoners".
News behind bars
There have been several demonstrations outside Vestre Prison, where people have been shouting slogans, making noise and setting off fireworks. Several of the prisoners have later been released and have expressed that it was the solidarity action, in the form of noise or letters, that kept them going while they were in prison.
"The noise demos meant a lot to us. I got up on the table in the cell everytime to look out to you. It was important to know that we weren't alone" says 51 year old Ulla Rasmussen, who was in prison for 13 days. Other activists have taken the iniative to print a magazine for the prisoners. The magazine, which has been called "Bundskruen", has a print run of 500 each week and are being sent out for free to the prisoners. The content is a mixture of solidarity notes, legal articles, ungdomshus history and an article about how best to get by in prison. Since a large part of the prisoners are foreign, it is printed in both Danish and English.
There has laso been focus on the prisoners from abroad. Sweden has a website Motkraft.net (a kind of sister site to Modkraft.dk), connected to Solidaritygroup in Stockholm and the Anarchist Black Cross in Stockholm, that has started fundraising for the Danish ABC-group. The goal was to fundraise 20000 Kroner, but they have already fundraised 30937 Kroner. Under the heading "Denmark's cause is ours", the money has been collected via giro, sms and support parties. The fundraised money will help the Swedish prisoners get home, and the remainder will be donated to the Danish ABC-group, writes Motkraft.net. According to ABC, the prisoners can be supported financially by putting money into ABC's bank account: Reg. nr. 8401 Account: 1079237.
Tuesday 20th march 16:00-20:00 there has been arranged a "conversation cafe" in the commune Bumzen in Baldersgade 22 at Norrebro. There will "cosiness, letter writing to the prisoners, and the possibility to talk to someone from ABC".
Visit ABC online: http://blackcross.dk/
The police is pissing on ungdomshuset
The clearing of Ungdomshuset was apparently a very personal matter for several police officers. On Friday a group of police officers decided to pee at the so called 'Ground69', and after the clearing of the house the police had taken "trophy photos" of themselves on the roof of Ungdomhuset. A spokesperson for the police is distancing himself from these episodes.
On Friday night, 16th march, Kristina Pedersen and her sister got a bit of a surprise. The two women were at 'Ground69' looking at the many flowers when a police van suddenly pulled up. "I asked my sister what they were gonna do here, since nothing was really happening. About five police officers got out of the van and walked across the ground and took a piss! Just in the middle of it all. I turned towards my sister who looked as surprised as I was. What was the point? To rub more salt in the wound?", writes Kristina Pedersen in a letter to Modkraft.dk.
When the officers walked back towards the van, Kristina asked them if they had just showed up to piss on the ground, and the officers replied yes. They laughed when she said that their behaviour was disrespectful and that they should think about what the place meant to people. When Kristina asked if they did not realise that it was illegal to pee on private property, the police answered "we have a very good relationship with Ruth" (Evensen, the leader of Faderhuset).
Kristina Pedersens experience is not the only example of certain police officers not taking the clearing of Ungdomshuset very seriously. In a videoclip that Modkraft has received, one can see a group of police officers on the roof. The police officers line up next to each other for a "trophy photo". The police commisioner Henrik Blandebjerg, from Copenhagen Police, is not proud of these kind of stories. "We distance ourselves from this. It's strange that they've done this, under every circumstances this is an unfortnuate case", he says to Modkraft of the group of police officers who chose to pee on 'Ground69'. "If this is correct, I Can say that there is no reason they should have done this". About the documented "trophy photo" episode, Henrik Blandebjerg says "that this sends some stupid signals".
"We do a lot of telling our officers that this is not a personal war. That happens both in their education and as continuing discussion", he says. All in all, the police commisionor does not like that these stories get out in the press, and when the police will evaluate the clearing this is something he will personally discuss with his collegaues. "I will bring it up as an example of what not to do", says Henrik Blandebjerg. Video of the police on the roof:
Monday 19th March
"We want free spaces where we can express ourselves"
There are still actions happening more than two weeks after the clearing of Ungdomshuset. "Today we will take our ground back and establish a nice city garden. A place where we can meet and work collectively together", says Jonas from the group that tried to green 'Ground 69' in the weekend. According to the plan, trees, grass and flowers should have planted, and a number of toys for children and a fire place were to be arranged. Copenhagen police had said before that they were not going to do anything about the action, but when about 100 people came, the police showed up anyway. Now the police slogan was suddenly "zero tolereance" for any activities on the property. According to TV-Lorry this is after agreement with the owners, the right wing christian sect Faderhuset, and this will be effective until the property is blocked off.
Statues with skirts
On sunday night a number of statues in Copenhagen got dressed up by a group that calls themselves "the ballet group". The statues are dressed in pink ballet skirts, and is, according to the activists, "a small symbol of the creativity and energy of the city's youth, that have been opressed for so long". In a press release they write, "Why does culture have to be conservative and sterile? Why is 'one-way' suddenly a positive word? We want free spaces to express ourselves, ask question and challenge the status quo and the system. For more free spaces and a new ungdomshus".
And more abroad
The solidarity actions also continue abroad. The Danish consulate in Kristiansstad in south Sweden had their windows broken on Friday night, 16th march. At the front it was graffiti'd "69", "Ungeren blir" and "Uden hus blir det bus" (without a house there will be trouble), writes Kristianstadsbladet.se. Consul Peter Olofsson will not comment on the attack and say whether security will be tightened.
Saturday 17th March
The Lithuanian company Baltic Workforce would like to build for Faderhuset at Jagtvej 69.
If this happens the company can look forward to union blockades against them. Baltic Workforce is know for paying "hunger wages" and not following collective agreements. "If they start to work, we will demand that they sign a collective agreement. But it does not matter if they work at Jagtvej 69 or in Hvidovre. This is a stricly professional matter".
Henrik Lippert, from the Builders Soil Environmental Workers union, has no doubt of the consequences if the lithuanian company starts building on the property of Jagtvej 69. On their homepage the company feels obliged to write that they will follow Danish laws. Anything else would be strange, since the Danish law is about criminal acts, such as driving through a red light and murdering someone, and nothing to do with professional work.
In an article at Brodrene A&O Johansen A/S's homepage the director of Baltic Workforce, Simon From, says "We follow danish agreements with the Danish building buisness. This is also the reason that we don't have any problem with the union". This, however, is a truth with modifications. The Danish unions are watching the company closely, since they have been in trouble with the union before.
The company has a bad reputation in the Danish building buisness, who have been after them several times due to unorganised work and too little pay. When the company acted as a contact between Lithuanian workers and the company Kaas Industri A/S in Aalborg, there were blockades and sympathy conflicts. The workers that were doing demolition work had no collective agreement and the company ignored any contact made by the building group Forbundet Trae-Industri-Byg (TIB). "We looked into the work, but they managed to finish before we could do anything", says Erich Borup from TIB to Modkraft. According to Foreningen Rejsearbejdere for Raetferdig Skattelovgivning, in 2004 Baltic Workforce offered 60DK/hour for strawberry picking, agriculture, production, buildings, driving and storage work. The sister company Baltic Holding Aps had 12 polish workers hired for 74DK/hour, which is about a third of Danish pay in that area.
Baltic Workforce has also been inspected by Naerings- og Nydelsesmiddelsarbejdernes Union (NFF). According to an article from 2005 in their magazine, they can't even find out if the directors name, Simon From, is real, and he really doesn't seem to care about the criticism about the companies low pay. "We have said yes to the EU and the inclusion of the east European countries - then we just have to live with that free movement of workers also applies to them, so what we are doing is completely legal", he said to NFF.
The legality of Baltic Workforce's activites is up for discussion, says Jens Peter Bostrup in NFF, "Companies like Baltic Workforce have apperently not been paying attention to the working market here in Denmark. One thing is that it is probably not so easy to get east european workforce for 60DK/hour without the workforce having been approved by the government. Something else is that Simon From and his company is sending out offers to companies that have a collective agreement".
"Of course NFF don't mind that people from the new EU countries are being hired in our companies. As long as it is under the collective agreement. 60DK/hour is far below the pay for the companies that are under our collective agreement. So that is no good. Baltic Workforce, and any company that buys underpaid work, is challenging the legal rules, especially NFF", says Jens Peter Bostrup.
Friday 16th March
The demo, with about 2-3000 people, has now reached Raadhuspladsen. The atmosphere is good, people are dancing and playing football, and a represantative for Ungdomshuset Blitz in Oslo has held a support speech. Modkraft is now finishing its live coverage for today.
The demo is now leaving Blaagaards Plads in direction of Aaboulevarden. The police are following them at a distance.
While the party continues at Blaagaards Plads, the occupied school at Stevnsgade seems to be empty. Modkraft.dk is being told that is was never occupied. "Occupation was the intention, but the police were standing outside when we arrived. To avoid a confrontation we just had a party on the street in front", says a spokesperson for the Iniative for more Ungdomshuse. From the speakers at Blaagaards Plads it is being announced that the demo will walk together to Christiania, where there is a support party for the ABC. The police are telling Modkraft that they will let the demo go along, even though it is an unannounced demo.
The occupied house in Blaagaardsgade has been cleared without drama. The police say that the four occupiers, who had hung a banner out of the window, left the building voluntarily. According to Modkraft's information, one of the arrested is a photographer, who despite his press card, was taken by the police. At Blaagaards Plads the demo have grown to about 500 people. A large banner reads "Now is fucking enough! Fuck Faderhuset, Ritt and the clearing of Ungeren!"
The street party in Stevnsgade has turned into a demo with a couple of hundred people that has walked down Guldbergsgade to Sankt Hans Torv, and then down Faelledvej. At Norrebrogade the police blocked the road so they could not go down Blaagaardsgade. The demo is now heading down Todesgade towards Blaagaardsgade, quite close to the occupied house in Blaagaardsgade.
A group of activists have occupied a house in Blaagaardsgade 23 at Norrebro. The police have blocked off the area and will not let journalists come through. The police will not explain why the press are not allowed in the area. The building was occupied for a short time during the riots in connection with the clearing of Ungdomshuset.
According to a press release by the Iniative for more Ungdomhuse, Stevnsgade School is now occupied. The iniative think it is just only fair that the council replaces what the young people lost at Jagtvej 69, and Stevnsgade School is perfect for this. "Stevnsgade school is owned by the council. If Ritt Bjerregaard would tell the police to not clear the building, the problem has been solved. Think about it, it is as easy clicking your fingers. Ritt has the possibility of solving the problem", says Anikka Viby, spokesperson for the Iniative for more Ungdomshuse. Mads Clausen, from the iniative tells Modkraft that there is nothing particulary symbolic about the occupation. "It is serious, because there is a need for a user controlled ungdomshus. Ungdomshuset at Jagtvej 69 never said no to Stevnsgade, they just didn't want to pay the 12 million kroners for it, and we think that is fair enough".
"All the plans are ready for the house, so the only thing Ritt has to do is not call the police", says Mads Clausen. The residents in the area have expressed that they are not happy about having an ungdomhus in that area. But there are also some residents that are welcoming the young. In a press release, Michael Bang Sorense, who lives in Stevnsgade, says that there are many in the area who would welcome the young. "When I have talked to neighbours it is clear that many people are positive, and would like an ungdomshus here. And this comes from families with children, buisnesses, old people and young people".
The music is playing. 150 party freaks are partying. The police showed up, and according to witnesses have arrested two people who put a fridge out in the road.
The street party has started to move a number of white painted fridges and stoves out on Guldbergsgade, so the road is blocked. There are about 40-50 people present and two police vans. The police and the activists are negotiating. Several of the residents in the area have expressed that they are not happy with the action. Everything is calm and there are children playing in the street. A van with music and speakers has just arrived at Stevnsgade School.
The secret street party at Norrebro is now official. At 16:36 it was revealed where the announced street party for more ungdomshuse will take place - "Put on your dancing shoes and come to a street party!! Come to Guldbergsgade 97 outside Stevnsgade School at 17:00, where there will be great DJ's. The city is ours!!", is the message that have been sent around by SMS.
According to the people arranging it, it will be "fucking crazy" when DJ's Rosa Lux, Kid Kidshore and Ras Money starts playing. In a press release the Iniative for more Ungdomhuse writes that when they "take to the street and have a street party it is in sympathy with Ungdomshuset's struggle. And because we don't have anywhere else to go since Ungdomshuset is gone".
Ungdomshuset in Oslo feels threatened
Blitz Ungdomshuset thinks that its existence is in danger, since the Norwegian "Fremskrittspartiet" (rightwing, immigrant hostile party) have started to attack the house and ask questions about its existence. Fremskrittspartiets candidate Svenn Kristiansen, has strongly attacked Blitz in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
Svenn Kristiansen writes among other things, that Blitz Ungdomshuset is the source of "serious crime", referring to the actions against the Danish embassy in Oslo. "To attack another country's embassy is seen as an act of terrorism", he writes and compares it to the actions that was done against the Norwegians embassies in the Damaskus, Syrien, during the Muhammed crisis last winter. "We are dealing with a criminal organisation that is promoting anti- democratic values so strongly that they are willing to use violence and property damage to stop whoever they disagree with".
It is nothing new that Fremskrittspartiet is attack Blitz. The party has done this through all the 25 years that Blitz has existed. The verbal attack has still worried the people at Blitz. "Fremskrittspartiet have great power in Oslo council", writes the activists from Blitz to Modkraft. They fear that a closing of the house will be part of their political campaign in the run up to the elections next autumn.
Blitz homepage: http://www.blitz.no/
Up to 500 people participated at today's manifesta for an ungdomshus and to mark the "international day against police brutality" at Blaagaards Plads at Norrebro, with music and speeches.
The day was to mark the two week anniversiary of the clearing of Ungdomshuset, which happened to fall at the same day against police brutality. The manifesta had, despite the serious theme, a good atmosphere. A large number of police watched from the side line. "In the middle of February the politicians decided that the youth problems should be solved by police and not at a negotiation table. This did not go well. Thousands of young people came to the streets to show their anger and frustration. The police answered with random arrests, tear gas, violence and over 600 arrests", was said in the speech.
Enhedslisten Rune Lund said, "When Turkish police arrest Kurds in a brutal way, there are protests. When the police in America arrest black people and beat them up, there are protests. But when the Danish police arrests people with violence, it is quiet. That is why I have came here to show that we will no longer accept police brutality".
The manifesta finished at 19:00, but tomorrow there will be cycling demos, street parties, noise demos and a support party for the ABC.
SF are now joining in to demand a user-controlled Ungdomshus in Copenhagen.
And the party does not only want one, but they want several, with spaces for concerts, kitchens, creative rooms, meeting rooms and places to hang out. The country's capital has the right to make sure there are spaces for "all the residents youth cultures", they write in a press release.
The party will therefore suggests to the council that they start working on a long term plan to get more user-controlled ungdomshus, and include this in the budget negotiations for 2008. "Jagtvej 69 was an era, and it is over, and no matter what anyone thinks about the way it happened in connection with ungdomshuset, one must now look ahead. This is about a group of young people who had something they cared strongly about taken away", says Bjarne Fey from SF.
"Why not demonstrate our cultural diversity, and make facilities available to the former users of ungdomshuset, and young people in general. A diverse cultural life and the cities free spaces have been one of the trademarks of Copenhagen. The more we shut these places down, the more difficult it will be to attract and expand creative forces in the future", says Bjarne Fey. SF suggests that the politicians and Copenhagen council get together to find a model as to how a user-controlled ungdomshus can be established and run. According to SF, the best solution will be to let a fund establish an ungdomshus so that there will be a part to communicate with.
Thursday 15th March
You can now play the game "The Battle for Ungdomshuset". The idea of the game is
to build a new colourful ungdomshus before the old one has been torn down. Play the game
The legendary pirate radio from Ungdomshuset has reappeared online. Piratradio 69 was broadcasting 24 hours a day from Ungdomshuset until it was cleared, and have now been re-established on the internet. On the radio, it is possible to send greetings and of course stream the programs.
Check it out here: http://radio69.dk/
Another kind of information was available for Copenhageneres on Thursday, when extra pages about Ungdomshuset and the clearing was added to about 2000 free newspapers. A group that calls themselves Oplysning69 is behind the iniative and says in a press release, "We don't think that the press have fairly covered the clearing of Ungdomshuset, and we therefore chose to do it ourselves. The media has portrayed the police work as a success. In our opinion the success has been on behalf of the police breaking a number of laws and risking public safety. The debate has centered around violence, throwing cobble stones and starting fires, and the reasons for this has not been analysed. Other people than those from the "autonomous environment" have been on the street to show their resistance". According to the activists there are more actions to come.
Money, cars and street party
Another group has started fundraising on behalf of the people who came into trouble during riots. Alot of the people had their bikes, cars and other things destroyed, and this group, who calls themselves "Ungdomshuset at Raadhuspladsen" will try to fix this. In a press release they write, "We don't want to distance ourselves from our friends, but show understanding and compassion for the people who got caught up in the middle of this conflict".
What is happening to Ford69
At the weirder end of the scale is the art project Ford69. A group of artists have decorated an old Ford Escort from 1986 on the ground for Jagtvej 69, the so-called "Ground69". Now they don't quite know what to do with it, and are looking for some good ideas. At the same time they hope to decorate more cars that they can drive around in town with, and show their support for Ungdomshuset. They would also like to give the police's Hollaendervogne (police vans) some paint because "they look so wrong in our city". "We offer a state of the art camouflage paint to the police, if they want to look a bit better in the city", says the artists Filippa, Hrvrk, Poltergeist and Frankenstein.
Read more here from Politiken: http://ibyen.dk/kunst/article262790.ece
Send suggestions with what they should do with Ford69 to: Ungdom69@hotmail.com
"Fucking crazy street party"
A bit more concrete is the latest iniative from "The Iniative for more Ungdomshuse", who invites you to a street party at an "unknown place in Norrebro" friday afternoon. The street party will take place to emphasise the need for a user-controlled ungdomshus in Copenhagen. "The need is greater than ever. We see our struggle as a natural part of the support for the former users of Ungdomshuset at Jagtvej 69", says Anikka Viby, spokesperson for the Iniative for more Ungdomshus. Another spokesperson, Anna Sorensens adds, "It is crazy that in a country where they have pet cemetaries, they don't have space for an ungdomshus. It is not the money that is lacking from the police, but the will. We have seen that they have no trouble spending tons of money getting rid of the existing ungdomshus, so why can't they just give us a new one?"
Other, more traditional support arrangments have also been planned, such as bike demos, more support and fundrainisng events, and a number of parties.
Also outside Denmark the protests against the clearing of the house continue. About 50 activists had an unannounced demo Thursday evening outside the Danish embassy in Flensborg in solidarity with Ungdomshuset. The activists, that calls themselves, Sydslesvig supporters, wrote an open letter to the Danish general consule Henrik Becker-Christensen, with an encouragment to "bring this issue to your government in Copenhagen". In the letter, the activists expressed their worry about the state of the court and police in Denmark: "There are more and more stories of random arrests and police violence. Raids withouht court orders seems to be the norm". The activists also explains why the clearing of ungdomshuset bothers them, "Ungdomshuset is part of the leftwing, revolutionary movement for a better world. Free places like Ungdomshuset are important communication centres for this movement. With the clearing of Ungdomshuset, it was not only the Copenhageneres, but the whole European and Global movement that was robbed of such a centre".
Byggefagernes Samvirke (union for workers) describes their control of the demolition at Jagtvej 69 as a standard union practice.
Anders Olesen, the head at Byggefagernes Samvirke, doesn't think that there is a problem in them checking out the work in connection with the demolition of Jagtvej 69. And Henrik Lippert, from Byggefagernes Samvirke, calls the contract a normal piece of union work.
Henrik Lippert denies that he and a group of people from Byggefagernes Samvirke threatened a demolition worker when Jagtvej 69 was removed, which was the impression you could have got from a news report from DR1 on the 5th March. "Before what they showed on tv, I had given my buisness card to the man with the hoodie and told him why we were there, and we talked for about 5 to 10 minutes. This had been edited out".
The union was at Jagtvej to make sure everything took place by the rules. "This is completely standard union work, and it would have been undertaken in the same way even if the man had not had his face covered and the police had not been present. But the situation was atypical. It is not normal that people wear hoodies", says Henrik Lippert. Henrik Lippert think it is insane that people working with the demolition have had their cars burned. "We said before the conflict that none of our members should go in and work under conditions like that. One could see that the situation would end up the way it did".
Anders Olesen denies that there has been a conflict of interest since he is member of a fund that offered to buy Jagtvej 69 for the young people. But he realise that people can have difficulties distinguishing between his work in the union and being member of the fund. "I can understand that peple get confused. One could see it in the connection that we have tried to create a peaceful solution to the problem". He also says that that aim is the same as ensuring the safety and environment for the builders. "I am a member of the fund as the head of the union for builders", and he says that he's been involved in working towards peaceful solutions with Christiania.
News from Monday 14th March