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(en) Denmark, COPENHAGEN, Media: Police Okay Anarchist Santas

From Dan Clore <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Thu, 12 Dec 2002 10:10:16 -0500 (EST)


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Danish police okay Santa-anarchists for landmark summit 
Denmark has put half of its
10,000-strong police force on duty for a 28-nation gathering
in Copenhagen starting Thursday, in the country's largest
civilian security operation since World War II.

Authorities fear that protesters will try to disrupt the
showpiece EU summit, which formally marks the bloc's
historic eastwards expansion and winds up Denmark's six
months at the helm of the EU presidency.

But keen to show they have a sense of humour, police have
made a concession to the festive spirit, suspending a ban on
protesters wearing masks, saying they will allow
demonstrators to dress up as Santa Claus or his elfin
helpers.

Anarchist and anti-globalisation groups are hoping to muster
thousands of demonstrators -- up to 3,000 of them from
abroad -- on the sidelines of the meeting.

Authorities have approved a total of eight demonstrations to
be held on the outskirts of the city and near the summit
venue, which lies some eight kilometres (five miles) from
Copenhagen and will be surrounded by barbed wire and armed
police.

"We're ready for everything and we will not abandon the
streets to troublemakers," Copenhagen police spokesman Steen
Munch said.

"As long as they keep it in a humorous vein, that'll be
okay, but if they start to throw paving slabs or bottles at
us or at shop fronts, or if they turn the centre of town
into a battlefield, then they'll be arrested," he added.

But demonstrators have warned that as well as the eight
official protests, they intend to mount several impromptu
demonstrations and occupations.

Authorities have already suspended the so-called Schengen
accords governing free movement between 15 European
countries, reintroducing border checks since last week in a
bid to keep troublemakers away from the summit.

Logistically, the meeting presents more of a challenge than
most summits, which the European Union holds twice a year.

Along with the 15 current members, the summit will gather
leaders from the 13 candidate states, 10 of whom are due to
be formally invited to join the bloc on Friday, meaning
heads of state or government, other leaders and senior
officials from 28 countries will be in the Danish capital.

Police, are particularly anxious about left-wing, anarchist
and anti-globalisation groups, among them People's Global
Action, fearful that the summit could degenerate into the
kind of chaos that scarred the G8 summit in Genoa and the
Gothenburg EU summit, both held last year.

Swedish police shot and wounded three anti-globalisation
protestors amid violent clashes on the streets of
Gothenburg, while running battles in the northwestern
Italian city of Genoa saw one young protester shot dead by
police.

Denmark's Globaler Roedder, or Global Roots, the country's
main counter-culture anti-captalist group and part of
People's Global Action, said its actions would be peaceful,
urging other demonstrators to follow suit.

But some members of the group would be wearing heavily
padded overalls, in the event of coming into contact with
police batons, the group said, failing to rule out the
possibility of confrontation.

Story from AFP / Slim Allagui


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