Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Report from Christiania (January 10th)

infringement performance activist Donovan King is in The Free City of Christiania, in the middle of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is reporting daily on the resitiance to attempts by the Danish government to shut the city down...

The people of Christiania do not live a subsistence living - the area is probably too small to grow food for all its inhabitants, and they do move into and out of Copenhagen whenever they like.

At the same time, the Sunshine Bakery makes delicious breads and treats (the Danes loves to eat sweet breads at breakfast).

At the moment, I am in an area (Christianshavn) that has been cordonned off by the POLITI (police) - apparently due to a bomb threat.

I was going to get some milk for the coffee, and had to pass under a police tape. On my return, the POLITI said I was not allowed back to where I am staying.

Luckily, I managed to convince them, otherwise I'd be standing on a cold street corner with a carton of milk while my associates wondered what happened to me.

Apparently the Danish citizens are concerned that they are "next" on the terrorist hit-list, not unfeasible given the Danish participation in the Iraq war, and the ongoing Bush bootlicking carried out by the right-wing government.

Nowadays, I am told, there is an atmosphere of danger and any unattended bag is suspect. Anyways, I am personally hoping that this bomb threat has no substance, otherwise, I could be in serious shit if the thing goes off.

There are actually trucks outside that send TV-robots into sewers, so maybe the threat is under ground.

*** LATER ***

Well, it seems the bomb threat was a false alarm.

Apparently as white car was viewed as suspcious for some reason, and was eventually towed away by POLITI.

On the 5 o'clock news the anchor was asking the reporter if the threat was tied to Christiania. She said "no", rolling her eyes at such speculation.

Tonight I am going to movie night at the operaren...

- Donovan King (in Christiania)

Report from Christiania (January 9th)

infringement performance activist Donovan King is in The Free City of Christiania, in the middle of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is reporting daily on the resitiance to attempts by the Danish government to shut the city down...

I just returned from Christiania and Monday nights are pretty dead there. I was hoping to attend another meeting, but alas, there was none to be found.

The police patrol until midnight I am told, and I witnessed two cops harassing a young woman. I moved in a bit closer to see what was going on, and saw a cop intimidating here, saying something in Danish with the word HASH at the end of the sentence.

Translated, I imagine it would have sounded something like "Hey, what were you smoking? Where is your HASH?????".

Christiania TV is now loaning out video cameras to document police harassment and brutality. There are also 2 weekly papers (in Danish only) that discuss these issues and show photos. Tomorrow night is the Christiania TV screening night, so that should be interesting.

I have also spent a bit of time wandering around Copenhagen. Apparently some rich dude, Maersk, forked over tons of money for an opera house, but only if he could build it right next to a historic castle.

Sure enough, there it is spoiling a beautiful historic view by being situated right at the end of an important historic street. It is a monstrosity of architecture.

- Donovan King (in Christiania)

Report from Christiania (January 8th)

infringement performance activist Donovan King is in The Free City of Christiania, in the middle of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is reporting daily on the resitiance to attempts by the Danish government to shut the city down...

I just came back from the Blues Jam at the Operaren, and met a fellow named David from New Orleans. He was playing the trumpet with passion and pizazz amidst the improvised jazz ensemble (which plays 4 - 9 pm every Sunday, free of charge).

I have met a few Americans here, many dating back from decades ago. Many of them are similar to the current War Resisters in Canada - they came to escape oppressive US policies.

Discussing Katrina with David was enlightening - as a black person he had a lot to say against the US government and Bush.

I also met an older woman, a single mother whose daughters are now grown into adults, who told me of a horrifying encounter with the police where they beat the shit out of her. Apparently this is a common practice with Chistianites, and reportedly Amnesty International mentions it every time they report on the Danish government's conduct.

A lot of the people here are extremely pissed with their right-wing government, and the lasy I mentioned described it as "the most racist government in the world today".

Apparently they are tightening up and already extremely tight immigration policy, with new "tests".

The police also paid a visit to Christiania today with a massive bulldozer. Surely an intimidation sign, they demanded to bulldoze a snowfort which they claimed was a "security risk". And bulldoze they did.

Not a single snowman made by kids hands or wall within the playful fort remained following this sad spectacle.

A lot of it was actually made by Greenlanders, or the equivalent of First Nations in Canada.

There is a real atmosphere of fear and intimidation in Christiania.

On an entirely different note, I had dinner with a new media artist internet-named "FRIGG" who has a beautiful girl named Penny (1 1/2 years old). She told me that she is planning an electronic defense of Christiania.

- Donovan King (in Christiania)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A report from the free city of Christiania

Donovan King, a Canadian performance activist is presently visiting the Free City of Christiania in Denmark in hopes of establishing an infringement Festival there to help residents artistically challenge recent police harassment.

Christiania, a green car-free city in the middle of Copenhagen has come under threat from the right-wing Danish government which plans to demolish over 50 homes with no plans for the people currently living in them.

Donovan brings us this, the first of many reports...

Today I managed to get to Chistiania during daylight hours and purchased a guidebook (for 5 kroners - it is available for free online). While trying to orient myself with a cold Tuborg on the terrace at the Cafe Woodstock, I witnessed my first "police patrol" through the Freetown. About 8 officers, armed to the gills, paraded military-style up Pusher Street, glaring at everyone, myself included, as though we were potential criminals. There is a series of signals used by the locals to ensure when the police arrive they are clean (eg - not smoking or posessing any hash) and therefore not subject to harssment.

In the past I am told the police have resorted to the following draconian measures: strip-search, arresting people with a roach by their foot, banning people from establishments for 1-2 years if caught smoking, ticketing (300 kroners I believe), mass arrests (recently, on Sept 7 2005, an entire circus was arrested, including children!), police brutality, intimidation, extensive use of under-cover officers, and the demolition or removal of not only housing, but also stages, tents, and other facilities used by the citizens.

I soon went to the Nyt Forum (infoshop) and was soon hooked up with one of the leaders of the Rebel Clown Army, who was very keen to hear about how we deal with these issues in Canada. I shall call him JH out of respect for privacy. I mentioned the infringement festial and JH said he was very interested to learn more. I told him to check it out online and tell his associates.
He filled me in on a lot of the other critical artists in Christiania, and will now set up meetings with folks such as Christiania TV, filmmakers Britta and Nils Vest, various visual artists, activists, etc. This is a freecity in need of a strategy for the shitstorm ahead, probably due in the spring or summer.

Recently, on Jan 1, every resident was given a paper telling them whether or not they have "users rights" to Christiania, an obvious effort to divide the people. Those with "rights" will be allowed to stay living here after the mass evictions, but for how long, nobody knows. Those with no rights will have their homes demolished and they will be forcibly expelled from the community. No, this isn't Gaza or Zimbabwe - it is central Europe!

In any case, I am trying to hook up the people here with other activists around the world. If Christiania is to be saved, it will need a global effort this time around.

I will keep you all posted as things develop on this side of the pond.

- Donovan King
in Christiania