Ahead of the planned land buy-out by Christiania’s residents, security in the self-styled ‘free-state’ is being questioned following an assault on an undercover journalist and revelations of the sheer scale of organised crime there.
Since the police’s pull-out from Christiania following their failed attempt to shut down its cannabis trade in 2004, the Hells Angels biker gang have become firmly embedded in the area and turn over one billion kroner selling the illicit drug.
But with Christiania residents expected to hand over the first payment as part of their planned takeover of the state-owned land, Christiania lawyer Knud Foldshack has warned that residents will cancel the handover unless they are treated with more trust.
“Twenty-two governments over 40 years have tried to find a solution for Christiania. Now a solution has been found in which a group of people take on an enormous responsibility and work hard to take over the free-state,” Foldshack said according to the Ritzau news bureau.
“If we are going to be met with mistrust in this way, we won’t take on the responsibility for the takeover,” Foldschack added.
The police have also responded to criticism that they are doing too little to stop Christiania from becoming a lawless state within Copenhagen.
In an official statement, Johan Reimann, the director of the Copenhagen Police, wrote that It is well known that many of the rules that are followed in much of the country have not applied in Christiania since the disused naval base was taken over by squatters in 1971.
“It will take time to change this and it is my hope that the handover will be the first step in the right direction,” Reimann wrote. “Christiania is not a recreational area for criminals or anyone being sought after by the police. But the police can confirm that it is normal practice to send larger numbers than usual when carrying out activities in Christiania.”
The justice minister, Morten Bødskov, defended the police’s handling of Christiania.
“The fact that Christiania has problems is definitely not news,” Bødksov told Politiken newspaper. “Politically we have chosen to target the criminal masterminds. That’s why we’ve established various task forces that target biker and gang communities. I believe that this separation of politics and operational police work is appropriate.”
Last June Christiania residents signed a deal with the previous government to buy the land for 76.2 million kroner. Christiania has raised 8.5 million kroner by selling ‘people’s-shares’ while another 55 million kroner was recently secured as a loan from mortgage lender RealKredit Danmark to cover the first payment, which is due on July 1.