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World’s largest climate justice demonstration draws massive crackdown

As many as 100,000 took part in a four mile march on Saturday from Copenhagen’s Parliament Square to the Bella Center, where climate negotiators from 192 countries are meeting. It was reportedly the largest demonstration for climate justice in world history. Unfortunately it came at a pretty severe cost. Police arrested nearly 1,000 people, cuffing and forcing them to sit in rows for hours without food or toilets in freezing temperatures.

It seems a large segment of those arrested include anarchists participating in a black bloc, a tactic, according to Wikipedia, “whereby individuals wear black clothing, ski masks and motorcycle helmets with padding, steel-toed boots and often carrying their own shields and truncheons.” There were also reports of minimal property damage, such as smashed windows.

As with most large actions, these are the news items that tend to dominate, stealing attention away from the positive power of the protest and “legitimizing” state force. Apparently, in addition to the trumped up police units, the Danish military has been making its presence known as well, contributing to what’s become the largest mobilization of law enforcement in the country’s history.

All but a dozen were released by yesterday, but according to the BBC, “another march pressing for action on global warming near the harbour on Sunday saw dozens more people arrested.”

Riot police stopped the unauthorised demonstration outside the Oesterport station and carried out security checks on participants.

Police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch told the Associated Press that bolt-cutters and gas masks had been found inside a lorry at the front of the march, and that 200 activists had been detained.

The protests and demonstrations will no doubt continue throughout the week thanks to the thousands of courageous people from around the world attending Cop15. As the climate youth activist blog It’s Getting Hot In Here pointed out, it will be interesting to see what happens on Wednesday, when thousands plan to march on the Bella Center and “establish a People’s Assembly in a parking lot outside.”

At the same time, the Reclaim Power protestors will call on delegates and activists from the Global South to stage a walkout from the heavily-compromised COP-15 negotiations, and join the People’s Assembly outside.

Such a protest would heavily delegitimize the business-as-usual negotiation process that has prevailed thus far at the COP-15; organizers hope that it would force the Global North cabale that has dominated the talks thus far to grant the Global South countries a greater voice. And this plan perhaps explains why the Danish police – acting together with the UNFCCC – are trying so hard to crack down on anyone trying to challenge the carefully-managed perception that any deal at “Hopenhagen” (even one that flies in the face of democratic process) will be a good deal for all the people of the world.