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13 December 2009updated 27 Sep 2015 2:28am

Copenhagen: the crackdown

Most of those arrested in Copenhagen were entirely innocent

By Stephanie Hegarty

Reporting on Saturday’s march here in Denmark is overwhelmingly focused on police action, with 938 people arrests made. All but 13 have already been released. An eyewitness I spoke to watched the entire scene from her apartment overlooking Amagerbrogade street. Some young people who had infiltrated the crowd were throwing stones and smashing windows as they passed the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. Police descended on an entire section of the crowd referred to as the “Black Bloc”. Most of those arrested were entirely innocent and bird’s-eye images of lines of the detained in multicoloured bobble hats and ski jackets contrast with rumours circulating yesterday of hundreds of black-clad youths.

The operation was shockingly efficient. The arrested were pulled on to an adjoining street, tied up with cable ties and left to sit on the near-frozen roadside for nearly four hours. I heard a marcher from Japan tell how he was put into a police bus and brought to a huge warehouse where he was detained in a cage for up to nine hours. He described the atmosphere as jovial, with everyone there safe in the knowledge they had done nothing wrong. By the time I passed the scene half an hour after the arrests were made, all that could be seen was a line of strict police blocking off views on to the adjoining road.

Back on the march outside the Bella Centre, Mary Robinson, former UN high commissioner for human rights, wrapped up the movement with an inspiring speech. She emphasised again one of the salient points of this conference, that it is about people. “I sometimes worry slightly about the images we have . . . If the image is a melting glacier or the polar bears — and I love polar bears — it still distances us . . . For me, the image of climate change is a poor farmer, a poor indigenous woman, and she is desperate because her livelihood is being undermined.”

Unlike previous speakers, Robinson wasn’t afraid to launch into the numbers debate. She put the minimum that developed countries must donate to the developing world way above the earmarked $10bn. We should expect a fund of $200bn per year and put the initial fast-track fund at a minimum of $100bn. “This is very modest in terms of financial bailouts and defence budgets,” she said. The crowd was reverentially quiet throughout, but livened up when Desmond Tutu took to the stage, cackling and grinning and calling for the “wonderful rich people — and you are wonderful” to realise their “moral” obligation.

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While this went on outside, one blogger inside the centre described the place as “hermetically sealed”, with people crowding around screens to follow the protest outside.

Another 200 people were arrested today in an unauthorised march that was planned to blockade Copenhagen’s port. The protesters were on their way to the headquarters of the shipping firm Maersk. There has been little mention of this protest, which seems to be a very fringe affair, involving what the police have called some “hardcore” protesters.

The only sign of action was the sound of police cars racing around the city at around 2pm, adding a little drama to what was otherwise a pretty quiet day in town.

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