Christiania residents shut down ‘drug market’

Local residents are again taking action against drug sales in Copenhagen's free city of Christiania - and shortly afterwards the business in the "Drogengasse" resumes.

Local residents are afraid of violence from organized drug gangs.

Residents of the free town of Christiania in Copenhagen have blocked the notorious “drug alley” in protest against violence and drug-related crime. “The action takes place in the hope of liberating Christiania from the tyranny of gangs and rockers,” the group said in a statement. She protested against a series of acts of violence around the so-called Pusher Street, which had to do with the drug business.

More than 50 years ago, the Danish army cleared the barracks in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen. People longing for an alternative, freer lifestyle occupied the site and opened Christiania in 1971. The city later created the legal framework under which Christiania is tolerated – today the free city is one of Copenhagen’s major tourist attractions.

Residents barricade alley

But the special status of Christiania and the crowds also created problems. In “Pusher Street” some masked people sell drugs from small stalls. Residents complain that the substance business is now in the hands of organized gangs. “Organized crime sucks the energy from all the positive things we want in Christiania,” they wrote in the statement. It produces division, hatred and violence.

At night they barricaded the entrances to the alley with concrete barriers and bars. “Pusher Street is closed,” read a concrete block. The action is not aimed at the many people who use cannabis recreationally and responsibly, residents said. However, one calls for not buying the drugs in Christiania. The players in “Pusher Street” didn’t adhere to the laws and values of the free city, the money they earned doesn’t finance Christiania, but gangs.

Fear of gang violence

As local residents, they are often asked why they didn’t just close down Pusher Street, the letter continues: “The short answer is because we feel powerless and scared. We are normal people who have to work and have lunch boxes for grab their children. The gangs are violent and willing to kill to protect their earnings and their territories.”

The blockade therefore means great risks for those involved in the action: “We are afraid of doing something, but we are even more afraid of doing nothing.” Addressing politicians and the police, they ask: “Why don’t you close Pusher Street? Don’t you want to? Or can’t you?”

Several attempts to stop drug sales have failed. It’s not the first time that residents are fighting back either: in 2016, a dealer shot at police officers, who shot back. Local residents then demolished the stalls with an excavator. But the stalls were newly created.

The barricades had already been pushed aside the morning after the most recent blockade and the alley was partially accessible again.


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