While open drug trade of cannabis, hash, and soft drugs is tolerated in Christiania, an autonomous region in Copenhagen, Denmark, that all could end if the area can’t clean up its act, the capital city’s mayor warned.
Copenhagen, Denmark Lord Mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen told local paper Ekstra Bladet that growing violence has to end or she will shut down cannabis and drug trade in Christiania.
The Guardian reports that Andersen threatened to close Pusher Street’s drug trade if the 1,000 or so people living in the Christiania commune comply with her plan.
Since the 1970s, Christiania or Freetown Christiania in the Christianshavn borough in Copenhagen has been the nation’s “Green Light” district. Think of it as mini Amsterdam, complete with comparable canals and architecture and open tolerance of soft drugs and cannabis.
Bådsmandsstræde military base on the island of Amager was transformed into a commune in 1973 with an autonomous government. Hippies and anarchists established a Social Democratic government structure and made the area a permanent “social experiment.” The first thing you see when you enter Christiania is a mural of a fan leaf, as well as a fist smashing a hypodermic needle, signifying the area’s rule of no hard drugs.
Since around 1980 or so, hash—Europe’s popular form of cannabis—has openly been sold on Pusher Street, which is why the area enforced a strict no photo rule. But organized crime sours the picture, and it’s not the utopia it used to be.
“The violence and crime around Pusher Street has now reached a level we neither can nor want to deal with,” Andersen told Ekstra Bladet. “In Copenhagen, I believe we must have room for Christiania. It is both skewed and alternative. It’s creative. But this harsh, organised violence must be written out of the future around Christiania.”
A 23-year-old man was shot and killed in Christiania on October 26, as a rash of violence was reported in the area. It reminds some about a grenade attack in 2009. “We are afraid that the situation will develop into a gang war in Christiania,” the area’s spokeswoman Hulda Mader said. But keep in mind that Copenhagen at large is one of the safest cities in the world, and that crime is comparably lower than other parts of the world, adding to the reason they don’t want crime entering the picture.
Andersen warned that she’s not playing games anymore. “That is why my message is also that if the Christianites make it clear that they are ready to close Pusher Street and replace it with something else then we in the municipality of Copenhagen are ready to support putting together a plan to find out what should happen to the street.”
After the incident last October, Christiania’s hash trade moved from its original spot on Pusher Street up to near the area’s main entrance. “Enough is enough,” Mader said. “We have disclaimed responsibility for what goes on in Pusher Street. It is not something that we, as private individuals, can oppose. Now there have been repeated episodes of violence, and we simply think that it has become too dangerous for us.”
Christiania is currently run by the Foundation Fristaden Christiania, while the Housing and Social Affairs Agency owns the ramparts and runs the state’s Christiania Secretariat.
A joint dialogue will soon take place between the Foundation Fristaden Christiania, Copenhagen Municipality, Copenhagen Police, the Housing and Social Affairs Agency, and the Castles and Culture Agency. All groups meet regularly. The Technical and Environmental Management in the Municipality of Copenhagen will also work together with the Foundation Fristaden Christiania on the future public housing in Christiania.
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