COPENHAGEN From early afternoon, the free city of Christiania has a relaxed atmosphere. Drug dealing continues on Pusher Street, but the street is not the same.
At the end of August, the traditional motorcycle gangs that dominate the drug trade settled their differences with guns. One of the gang members died and four others were wounded. One of the wounded was a Spanish tourist.
After the murder, the Copenhagen police declared both the Christiania and Nørrebro and Nordvest districts as special areas where the police can carry out body searches without suspicion of a crime. The decision on the special area is made for two weeks at a time, and the current one expires on November 6.
Since the end of August, the police have checked 1,035 people, and found 46 bladed weapons and 20 other assault weapons and pepper spray. 34 people have been charged with illegal possession of weapons.
According to the locals, the police patrol in Chrystiania 4-5 times a day. That’s why hashish dealers’ tables are now empty, and what’s being sold goes into one box, in which the seller sneaks away from the patrolling policemen.
Hashish trading has continued in Christiania for decades. However, it is illegal in the same way as in the whole of Denmark. The buyer will be fined if caught.
A special area model is also planned for Sweden, and it is also being discussed in Finland.
For the first time, residents against the drug trade
Christiania was founded 52 years ago in the old army barracks in the center of Copenhagen. The area had and still has a strong hippy character.
According to Christiania’s own rules, the number of residents may not exceed a thousand, strong drugs may not be sold or used in the area, and decisions regarding the area are made at the residents’ meeting.
The meeting after the shooting incident was historic. Now, for the first time, the residents of Christiania are demanding that Pusher Street’s hash shop must be put an end to.
The Christiania Information Center is on Pusher Street. The entrance is between the hash shops. On the second floor, the duty shifts have been divided, and today is at work Krister Larsen.
The residents of Christiania have watched from the sidelines as Pusher Street’s drug store has drifted over the years to the control of motorcycle gangs. According to Larsen, the internal hierarchy of the gangs is obviously harsh, the sellers are the lowest caste and younger and younger.
The shooting incident at the end of August has clearly shaken Larsen.
– It was really violent and the purpose was only to kill one member of the Hell’s Angels. He died, but also completely outsiders were injured.
According to Larsen, the decision of the residents’ meeting was clear and unequivocal: the drug trade on Pusher Street must be stopped.
– Yes, this is the first time that there has been such a strong position against Pusher Street.
Instead, residents’ opinions are divided on whether Denmark should follow Germany’s example and legalize the sale of hashish throughout Denmark. Larsen himself is in favor of legalization.
Many other, according to Larsen, younger Christians are against legalization.
The Danish police have many means against gangs
In Denmark, gang crime has been curbed with legal packages since 2009, and the latest proposal, the fourth “bandepakke” or gang package, is from this fall. The provisions have been tightened so that even smaller references to gang connections are sufficient grounds for punishment.
The punishments associated with gang crime are doubled, and visits during the prison term are stricter than for other prisoners. The same applies to the holidays at the end of the prison term.
A descriptive example is from two or three years ago. Members of two Swedish gangs had gotten into arguments and the showdown took place in Herlev, Denmark. As a result of the shooting incident, two people died.
Of the killers, three adults were sentenced to life imprisonment and two 17-year-olds received 16 years in prison. In Sweden, 17-year-olds would probably have been punished by three years in a closed youth home.
Christian now belongs to the deputy police chief by Simon Hansen responsibility. According to him, for example, the toolkit used by the Copenhagen police is versatile.
– Continuous monitoring of these gangs is very important. That is, even if there is no actual confrontation going on, we know very precisely what these criminal groups are doing, who they are and where they are staying.
According to Hansen, bans that can be imposed on a gang member after a prison sentence are also very effective. In that case, visiting the old home block or the gang’s lodgings is prohibited. The ban can last for years and breaking it can result in imprisonment.
– They are actually really effective. We know that, for example, people sentenced to a residence ban have had to move. They don’t get to the same place as usual. And most importantly, they cannot join the criminal group they belonged to before.
Hansen does not want to advise the Swedish police in suppressing gang crime. Hansen also underlines that there is now a clear difference in the countries’ crime rates. In Denmark, traditional motorcycle gangs come together. The background of gangs in Sweden is largely in problem neighborhoods.