Café Viking was packed to the rafters on Thursday night. So many people had shown up at the little Nørrebro pub that 200 of them had to stand and drink in the street.
They were there not for a particularly good deal on drinks, but rather to show their support for the establishment's owner Jane Birgitte Pedersen, more commonly known as Mamma Jane, in her battle against thugs trying to extort her for protection money.
Earlier in the day, Mamma Jane had come forward and said that thugs had demanded protection money and, when she refused, had thrown stones through her pub located on Ægirsgade, halfway between Jagtvej and Nørrebro Station.
The support not only came from people in the neighbourhood but went viral when a Facebook group 'NEJ til Bøller JA til Øller' (NO to thugs, YES to beer) encouraged folk to meet up and back Mamma Jane’s defiance. So far over 16,000 people have ‘liked’ the site and the bar was getting calls from all over Denmark giving support to Mamma Jane’s cause.
The issue of protection money, in which criminals demand money from people running businesses on 'their turf', has been an ongoing issue in Nørrebro. But because few people have dared to come forward, specific police cases have been few and difficult to solve.
Mamma Jane met with the council, police and other business owners early on Thursday and was subsequently praised by Copenhagen’s mayor, Frank Jensen (Socialdemokraterne), who wants to end the mafia-like tactics once and for all.
“It takes a lot of courage to stand up to the threats. That’s why it is important that the council, police, business owners and residents of Nørrebro get together and back the impressive initiative by Café Viking’s owner,” Jensen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. "I can guarantee that Copenhagen’s police are fully committed to ending these mafia tactics, but we rely heavily on people like Jane to come forth.”
The council group Center for Sikker By (Centre for a Safe City) participated in a meeting along with the police, business owners in Nørrebro, business association Nørrebro Handelsforening and the local committee Nørrebro Lokaludvalg and came up with four initiatives designed to tackle the problem:
- Uncover the extent of the problem via anonymous questionnaires
- Contact the youth groups in order to convey that these underhanded methods are unacceptable and punishable
- Inform citizens and business owners how to react if they have information concerning extortion or have been exposed to it themselves
- Assist the establishment of a citizen/business network with a view to creating a mutual front against extortion