Sunday, January 11, 2004
Christiania Threatened (Again)
In 1971 a land invasion took place in Copenhagen, Denmark:
hippies occupied an area in town containing buildings that
once served as military barracks. They never left, and established
their Chrisitiania as a "Free State," one that refused to pay taxes
or otherwise bend to the Danish crown or the European Union.
Over time, Christiania's relationship to Copenhagen became
regularized but far from normalized. Residents pay for water and
electricity but still remain off the tax roles. Vice Squad's interest in
Christiania lies in the fact that marijuana and hashish use and
sales are permitted, one might even say encouraged, in Christiania.
This, too, flies in the face of Danish law, of course. At one time
hard drug sales and legions of junkies descended upon Christiania,
but in the early 1980s the community adopted a "no hard drugs"
position. When Vice Squad spent 10 minutes in Christiania a few
weeks ago (at night, in the rain, and in the mud (the streets
aren't paved and there are no cars)), the only posted rule was on
a sign proclaiming, in English, "No Hard Drugs".
Christiania has a long history of battles with the state, and now
it is facing a new one. Last Sunday the hash sellers on "Pusher '
Street" burned down their own stalls, to pre-empt further police
action against them. Nevertheless, as soft drug sales and use are
still tolerated by the folks within Christiania, they may not have
seen the end of the Danish police. Drug War Chronicle has the
full story. Christiania maintains a website that includes
some historical background: "The Tale of Christiania".
Vice Squad can't help to admire the spirit of the Christiania residents,
and like John Stuart Mill, thinks that we have much to gain by
encouraging experiments in living. (But he probably would not
be pleased if squatters set up in his own quarters for an experiment