Riots in Copenhagen (Ungdomshuset)

I live in Copenhagen, and recently there have been a series of riots regarding the expulsion of a collective from something called Ungdomshuset (The Youth House). Also, there have been a good deal of supporters from Germany, Norway, and Sweden coming in to join in the violence.

I gotta say, I think these kids are immature. Okay and also, some of the “kids” are in their mid-thirties, so it’s a bit of a misnomer at times. Regardless, the house had been given to a group of youth in the eighties. It was originally built by Danish members of the Danish labor movement. It was later sold to various people ending up in the hands of the government. After that they gave it to the youth collective. You can imagine the political ideals of these people. They were anti-athoritarian, etc. Same as the people in Christiania, etc. The reason why such situations are allowed by the government, I imagine is that Danish people had been very tolerant and still are to a large degree. I’m sure that if they had legally owned the establishment they’d probably be allowed to continue residing there doing as they pleased as long as they weren’t involved in selling drugs, etc. The house was sold to a company in 1999, which was later sold to a Christian congregation. It ought to be noted here that this wasn’t due to the Danish government saying “let’s replace these hippies with Christians!” Secondly the collective had a long time to actually get the funds to purchase the building or a similar replacement. at least 15 years, they had.

I don’t understand the mentality of such a group. How can you try to bill yourself as an alternative to the Danish society, when you are dependent on it? The fact that the building was not generating any money at all is actually a liability for the government. This is prime real-estate area.

The Government did do a bit of an underhanded deal, I understand. The problem though, is that the youth were not interested in dialogue with the government at all. After a huge fire and mold damage in 1996 the government offered to come in and renovate, which the youth refused. If you are in the precarious situation of being a beneficiary of the government’s tolerance, you’d better kiss ass, as far as I’m concerned.

What’s happened now is that the population sees the youth as spoiled kids who would rather not pay rent or get jobs. I think this is pretty fair. You can’t live off the state if you don’t contribute. Secondly they’ve responded with threats of violence after the sale of the building. Why not try to cooperate with the government on the issue? You are being pretty immature if you act an ass to the people responsible for you being there at all. After all, after it was sold the first time, the building would have been torn down if it weren’t for government regulation.

So sorry, I’ve got no sympathy for you guys. The building will be used, and your movement will go down once you all get jobs and pay for a flat. I pay taxes here although I’m not even a Dane, and I think it’s a really fair and just society. If you want to take your extremist ideas, take them elsewhere where it might fool someone into feeling sorry for you. Violence is the only tool of the oppressed. But is this really oppression? You’re being forced out of a building that you don’t own. If you didn’t agree with ownership, then why did you accept the offer in the first place? Go buy your own building and do as you please. I’m sure the government won’t care unless you start killing each other or selling drugs.

There is an argument to be made here though. If you want to live a certain way, outside the mainstream of society, then I think that’s okay as long as you don’t go and start circumcising females or anything particularly bad. But you also have to realize that the majority of Danes don’t want to live like you do. You have to respect their desire to live as they like too. If you accept no help from society then you are free to do that, but why should the Danes pay taxes so the youth can live in a “free society” I’m sure that not all members don’t collect unemployment benefits. That’s simply spoiled if you ask me

You could have gotten into the good graces of the majority had you behaved as adults throughout the process. Now the community goodwill won’t be overflowing, I can guarantee that.

I can’t imagine what argument they are using for being allowed to stay there. Do they say that the government shouldl provide free housing to everyone?

When I was in Denmark about thirty-five years ago, the Danes took a lot of pride in working. Everyone did something. I didn’t see any poverty at all. I was specifically told that there was pride in work.

The Danes were the most relaxed and tolerant culture that I’ve ever participated in. So it’s very hard for me to imagine these riots with people coming in to support them from other countries. Can you explain their side of the argument?

I’m a dane, so…

I can’t really explain the mindset behind the people rioting, as I don’t understand them myself.

I’ve tried looking for cites in english, but all I find is biased info from the people in the youth house - pleading people from other countries to come and help them stir up trouble. IMHO: they’re spoiled brats.

As far as I’ve understood it, the reason the politicians sold the house was not an evil plan to get rid of the youth house - but rather that there was a set of rules and conditions when they gave it to the young people in the first place - and those rules were not adhered to, and so they sold the house. It doesn’t even matter who they sold it to (I’m looking for a cite regarding the rules thing - but so far nothing in english).

What I get is the frustration - of course there should be room for young people who’re not into sports or something. But they can make a club and rent a place like everyone else.

And there’s no excuse for attacking the police and burning people’s cars.

What gets me more angry is perhaps their cries of “police violence (oooh he showed you cos you threw a rock in his face? What?)” and calling the people who are sane enough to want dialogue “narrowminded” and “fascists”. Yeah, that wins sympathy. I’m not narrowminded, but I will not support giving them a house NOW after these riots. Plus, they were actually offered an alternative, which they turned down.

And for the record: people saying “you’re all so MAINSTREAM, and CONFORMED” while they’re all getting pierced, dressing in black, sharing eyeliners etc… Well you make me snicker at best.

Uhm, this turned into a rant. Not sure it clarified anything. I will look for as unbiased cites as I can find them - but apparantly the autonome are better (have more time on their hands?) at using the internet to get attention worldwide than the police, courts etc…

Sorry for the rants,

Found a cite - although it depends on how much you trust wikipedia - and it’s not as unbiased as I’d like:

From wikipedia:

Bolding mine.


Found a cite more, but again - I’m having difficulty finding good, unbiased cites in english:

From here:

Looks like they failed to understand how the world works. The city provided housing for their counter-culture rearsides with the understanding that they’d not generate too much trouble. (One could be tempted to say that the city paid Danegeld…)

As Kipling pointed out, Danegeld doesn’t work out. The anarchists - who seem quite happy to enjoy the benefits of a modern metropol, as long as they’re not asked to actually contribute to making it work - took that as some sort of justification for probing the boundaries for acceptable behaviour. And probe they did, not realizing (or caring) that their shenanigans were without serious consequence because the city was tolerant, not because it was weak.

Eventually, the city got fed up and got on with the whole dreary business of eviction, knowing that riots were pretty much inevitable. The eviction itself was planned pretty well - apparently the police chose the morning after a major party, so when they arrived, the anarchists were too hung-over to man the barricades, and basically had no choice but to surrender.

Of course, their hangers-on - some of whom are simply itching for any excuse to fight the police - are now out destroying stores, schools etc. in some sort of “retaliation”.

Hopefully, this time around, the city will stand fast and tell them that they blew their chance - they can pool their anarchistic savings and purchase a house, but any public funds are going to restore the city they so gleefully smashed. (Actually, a group of concerned citizens raised enough money to buy the spoiled brats a new house, for wahtever reason. They didn’t want that. A house had to be given to them, or they were just not interested.)

Too bad, but most people learn the basics of not biting the hand that feeds them early in life. And I will confess a certain schadenfreude in learning that the police, when faced with an unprecedented number of hungry rioters in holding cells, went out and purchased a bunch of meals from - McDonald’s.

We have similar groups in Norway, and I know some of these kids (none of my particular friends went to DK to paticipate in the riots, the real hardliners give me a headache.)

Most of them are sweet, wellbehaved ('cept for demonstrations and such) young malcontents. Most of them are anarchists, though many are sosialists instead. Animal rights is big among them, as is vegetarianism. They hate neo-nazis and other racist groups (violence has broken out at times, I’ll admit).

In short, they are confused kids, full of political fire but lacking any sort of perspective. They think the police are the servants of an unfair government (some of them have the bruises to “prove” it), and they hate most politicians. Most of them are loners with few friends (not all) and most are from less then ideal homes (again, not all). On the other hand, some of them have middle-class backgrounds and educations, like my friend the chemist.

The problem is that some of these kids find amongst themselves a sense of comunity and security that they don’t have otherwise. These houses (the blitz house in Oslo, “ungeren” in Copenhagen and so forth) become second homes, the other “revolutionairies” become a family. They have the same “us vs. them mentality” as the various socialist groups of the 70’s and the punks of the 80’s. These places catch the few children who feel they have nowhere else to go. For many, the next step is hell. When the blitz house was closed for a few months, the police reported a doubling of fresh faces among the drug buyers in town.

They don’t understand that losing that house was in any way a consequence of something they did. They only know that this house is precious to them, and the the government is taking it away. This is the proof they’ve been waiting for, the undeniable proof that the government is evil.

Personally, I don’t understand why the government doesn’t just leave them alone. This has happened a few times before, and every time it cost a few million in destroyed propperty. These kids do very little harm when left alone, and a lot of harm when provoked. Just let them keep their one house or give them another one. Jeez.

I’m seriously LOLing at them having to eat McDonalds! In case anyone didn’t see, the building is being torn down now. Not surprising as it was basically condemned about 10 years ago. I have read that they have done 1,000,000 kroner in damage.

Wait, so one’s right to free housing is dependant on how much damage one can do whenever denied of something one wants? What I don’t understand is why the state gives out free housing, which could be of so much more use to others (students, the poor, the homeless, who are not malcontents), to these ingrates.

Although, I must say, I like the idea of Denmark, one of the epitomes of big government, actually subsidizing its own malcontents. It’s sort of the reductio ad absurdum of big government

It’s not free housing. It’s a youth activity house. So for the price of letting these kids bum around in a condemned (tiny, three story, narrow) building, the government avoids having possibly hundreds of malcontent youths roving around on the streets etc. Sounds fair to me.

What do you think is more proffitable to the government: One house full of naive kids sitting on their asses bitching about politics, eating vegetarian food and listening to punk rock


A city full of dissplaced, angry, violent kids with nowhere to go and nothing to loose, turning to crime and drugs out of boredom and because the government “deserves it”?

To me, it’s just common sense to let these kids be.

It does? It sounds like a protection racket to me. “Nice city - would be a shame if something happened to it. I think you’d better give us a clubhouse, or there’s just no telling what some people may do.” Sorry, but that’s no way to behave. Would you support a biker gang if it made that sort of claim?

Anyway, what you describe was the exact deal that the city offered back in the eighties, and the malcontent youths roved around the streets anyway, when they felt like it. A bunch of these idiots appear to to think it’s some sort of sport to pick fights with the police. The city got fed up.

You are aware, I hope, that a group of concerned ciotizens raised money to buy a new house for the malcontent youth - and were turned down. They didn’t just want a house - they wanted the city to give it to them.

I’d imagine that the Ungdomshuset is probably a bad thing for malcontent youth in the city. It provides a fairytale-like place where they can hang out in the big-city life without any of the negative consequences. They can sit around eating vegetarian food and talk about how bad capitalism is and then go back home o their houses with their moms and dads or whatever.

Now the movement won’t have so much going for it. Their base of operations is gone (literally) so they won’t have a good way to organize. This will have broken their spirits, and you know what, that is actually a good thing. The sooner you realize that life isn’t a fucking fairy-tale then the sooner you compensate for it. As a result of their previous tolerance, we have mid-thirties youths who spent their time on their fucking anarchistic high-horse telling everyone how eveeeeevil the athorities were. Now what will they do?

Christiania is another thing. The produce revenue. They are accepted, and they don’t cause problems. Sure there was a thing with the drugs earlier on, but their goal is peaceful coexistence. They even tried to cooperate with the authorities to get the suspected heroin dealers out. Christiania’s motto seems to be “live and let live.” Christiania generally cooperates with the government. It’s quite static. But Ungdomshusets motto seems to be “fuck you, I’ll do what I want” Yeah, go ahead and do it once you get your own place. That annoys me to no end, really. They don’t want someone to buy them a place. They want to get it for free from the government, like the government owes them something? The Government has no obligation to support any of their activities and had been extremely tolerant.

It’s just when you try to be more left of one of the most left governments in the world, you end up looking like a big fucking tool to the rest of the world who realize how good it is here.

What poor? What homeless? Maybe Denmark has changed a lot since I was there, but I saw no poor and homeless. I didn’t go to Jutland, but I did travel the two main islands quite a bit.

That is just so Dansk! Hyggelig!

If the biker gang stayed in one small, condemned house and stopped doing biker-gangy-things everywhere else? Sure, why the hell not. Keep the place, I’ll even give them some motor-oil or tatoo-ink or whatever. Seriously, though - Anarchist naive kids =/= Biker gang, and I think you know that. Nice strawman.

I was not, and I’m sorry. However, I can see that fitting in with how these kids think. They are not really ones to take private charity. They way they see it, the government gave them a gift, then took it back (tagged on a wall nearby “YOU DON’T JUST TAKE BACK A GIFT!”). If you look at it that way, it is pretty assholish behaviour by the government.

Note, I am not saying these kids are right, or that they aren’t comitting crimes. What I am saying is that it might have been better for everyone involved to just leave well enough alone. These children aren’t going to just diseapear, and they’ll still be a problem tomorrow, exept they won’t have a place to hang out, and they’ll have a vengeance. They will cost far more than that house was worth if only a few of them wind up in jail.

There is more a stake than just the cost of the house. At what price do you abandon your laws to intimidation by violence? Will Denmark be a nation of reasonable laws or a nation of bratty bullies who want more than their fair share?
They didn’t just want a house. They wanted the government to give them a house and if the government didn’t do it, they were doing to make everyone suffer for it. That is the psychological temperment of a two year old.

If they were demonstrating to get something done about Darfur or to get American troops out of Iraq now that Denmark is withdrawing, then Godspeed to them. And I can understand that their friendships mean a lot to them. No one has said those friendships can’t continue. But the free ride is over. Let them do something to help someone else for a change. Let them earn the automatic medical care that they receive. Let them do some work so that they actually have something to contrast with the required five weeks of vacation time.

Politically, I am from the left.

This is, of course, absolutely correct. I’m just not sure this was the right cause to turn into a battle of ideals, since no-one is better at being a bull-headed idealist than an indignant teenager, which is what we have on our hands here.

I don’t really disagree with you here, but I have one question: do you really believe that this will be the result? That these kids will wake up tomorrow and think “Hey, now that out house is gone, I really need to start making my way in the world?”

The government has taken from these kids what they believe is the only thing they have going for them, without providing them with an alternative. They have given these kids no incentive to behave better, and plenty of incentive to behave worse. I belive carrots work better than sticks, and there are no carrots here.

You talk about “letting” them do some work. Do you have a job for them?

(No offence to you in particular, Zoe. The phrase “let them work” is a pet peeve of mine, and in most cases makes as much sense as “Let them eat cake”.)

Ideally, yes, of course, these kids should go home and lead productive lives and all that. I just think this has been handled clumsily by the government. Its as if they tried to get rid of wasps by picking up the nest and throwing it out the window. Bad idea.

Oh hey, I’ve been wondering: are these kids the same as BZ’erne? That’s what I’ve been thinking, but I haven’t actually seen any explanations (so I guess I ought to go read a Danish newspaper already). Could someone explain to me the relationship, if there is one?

So the building was torn down. Now what?

The kids fighting for their clubhouse is one thing, but the groups of professional rioters who travel around Europe in search of peaceful demonstrations to make them into violent riots… well, I can’t say they really disgust me, because they usually are a fair match for the police they fight. Right wing extremist target groups or individuals weaker then themselves. But I really think of such professional rioters as footbalhooligans with a pretentious political dressing.