Online activists take on police in Christiania

Fundraising campaign to pay possession fines is the newest weapon in the online fight against growing police presence in freetown

In response to the increased police presence in and around Christiania, a number of citizens are fighting back online. 

 

Fans of Christiania have long been using a Facebook page, 'Politi razzia på Christiania?' (PRPC), to inform one another of police presence in the freetown. The page has well over 9,000 likes and also been developed into an app for smartphones that allows people to check for police presence before heading to Christiania. 

 

The page was created in response to Taskforce Pusher Street, a calibrated effort by the Copenhagen Police to crack down on the illegal cannabis trade in Christiania. Launched in September 2012, the task force has focused on arresting buyers of cannabis in and around Christiania. And while the police have racked up a large number of arrests, locals and visitors alike have complained about the tactics, which include police stopping anyone they'd like and making them submit to a pat down and in some cases an on-the-spot saliva test using their new 'narkometer'

 

As police have stepped up their efforts in and around Christiania, users of the PRPC page have responded by posting photos and videos revealing the officers' location and warning others to avoid the area. 

 

A documentary filmmaker group known as Cadok has also been filming the police as they stop and search civilians. Some of Cadok's videos appear to show police attempting to stop the filming, even though it is legal to film police in action as long as it does not interfere with their work. 

 

And now in the newest move, the people behind the Facebook group, the Christatus app and Cadok have teamed up for a fundraising campaign meant to cover the 2,000 kroner fines people receive when caught in possession of cannabis. 

 

"We have seen an escalation by the police in the form of drug-sniffing dogs on the Metro, saliva tests on the street and an increased presence around Christiania, where they give out fines to peaceful citizens for the possession of cannabis," the PRPC page wrote yesterday. "PRPC, Cadok and Christatus App are fed up with the massive harassment from the police and the fact that politicians refuse to listen to the people and continue to hide behind old, deceitful propaganda. Therefore, we have put our heads together to find another response to the opposition we face daily from police and politicians in the fight for free choice and legalisation." 

 

The groups have set up a fundraising page on caremaker.dk to help cover the costs of possession fines. The campaign will raise money through 1 May 2014. The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Justice Minister Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), who has thrown cold water on Mayor Frank Jensen (Socialdemokraterne) and the City Council's ambitions to legalise cannabis in Copenhagen on a three-year trial basis

 

Once the money is raised, anyone who has received a fine is eligible for financial support by supplying a copy of the fine, proof that it has been paid and a short description of the incident. 

 

The groups behind the initiative acknowledged that they have their work cut out for them. 

 

"There are maybe some who think that this is impossible and we are wasting our energy," the group wrote. "But it isn't hopeless. We have over 9,300 users of the [Facebook] page and the app. If half of those users gave ten kroner a month, we could raise 558,000 kroner a year."

 

While Bødskov officially rejected a previous proposal to legalise cannabis, City Council continues to work on its 'Copenhagen Model' proposal. A majority of the council supports the trial legalisation and Socialdemokraterne have adopted it as an official platform for November's local elections.

 

In a May poll, 52 percent of respondents nationwide were in favour of legalising cannabis, and the number was even higher in the Copenhagen area. 

 

A video from Cadok is below (in Danish). 





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