Nov 13, 2008
Fearing the future of its unique lifestyle and self-governing
autonomy, the 900 or so residents of Christiania have petitioned the
Danish high court to regain control over the affairs of their
countercultural community. Ever since a group of Danish hippies began
squatting in an abandoned military base in the heart of Copenhagen in
1971, the government and the Danish population have been at odds over
how to best deal with the situation.
The latest round of conflict began in 2004, when the conservative
national government heavily cracked down on the open drug sales that
were a staple of life on Christiania's infamous Pusher Street. The
government went on to announce future plans to gentrify the district
into something more expensive and contemporary.
It was little surprise that the residents of Christiania fought back
in defence of their lifestyle. After the famous incident where drug
dealers took down their own shops on Pusher Street and moved into
cafés and apartments in protest, the community lodged a lawsuit with
the Danish government in 2006 claiming the rights to occupy the land
even though they don't technically own it.
In the past two years there have been numerous clashes between police
and residents, AP reports. A street battle over the demolition of an
illegal building in the enclave two weeks ago resulted in 15 arrests
and greatly increased tensions.
Thomas Ertman, a spokesman for the residents of Christiania, told the
Associated Press: "The plan by the government would destroy
Christiania as we know it." A hearing is set for the lawsuit on 21
November before the Eastern High Court.