Today may well prove an important date in modern Danish history, hopefully it will also prove the end of a long weekend of violence, riots and countless arrests. Today is the day that Jagtvej 69 in Central Copenhagen also known as Ungeren or Ungdomshuset (literally: “The Youth House”) met its destiny and was finally demolished after a long-lasting illegal occupation by a group of youngsters. I think everybody by now has heard the background story, if not, a short sum-up is available HERE
It is with mixed feelings that I look at the TV images of crying youngsters looking on as bulldozers, cranes and masked workers work to level the 100+ year old building: First and foremost there is a feeling of happiness that a statement is finally being made that authorities do not accept violent acts as a means of communication and that they are not bullied by hundreds of autonome youngsters threatening to raise hell if their demands are not met. On the other hand, I feel unbelievably sad that Copenhagen is now losing a cultural centre and institution which has for many years served to link and help young people network, not only those with bad intentions, but also those with noble plans and ideas.
The whole discussion of the Youth House is quite controversial and no matter which side you pick, you’re bound to receive several truckloads of flak from the opposing side. That’s not to say I’m stuck in the middle and not picking sides. I know where my sympathies are, and to be honest, after a weekend of the worst riots in Denmark since May 1993, it’s hard to find backing for the autonome core backing the Youth House. How could I in any way justify any support or sympathy for a group of people who’ve chosen to voice their opinion by hurling bricks, stones, explosives, fireworks, firebombs and what the fuck have you against police officers, family fathers who are only doing their jobs.. How can starting fires, blocking the streets, running amok and causing hundreds upon hundreds of arrests ever substitute a valid argument in such an important case?
You say Copenhagen needs a Youth House, and I wholeheartedly agree. You say you are left with no choice but to defend yourselves and throw stones in an effort to throttle police brutality, and I wholeheartedly disagree. I’ve never questioned the fact that Copenhagen needs a place for young people to get together and enjoy themselves, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t support the idea. In fact, I believe every major city in Denmark needs such a house, if I didn’t feel this way, I wouldn’t be spending so many hours trying to get Kolding’s new Student House up and running. I’m all for the idea. What I’m argueing, and what we are in the process of proving, is that dialogue is the way! Violence is not the way nor is selfish pride or unwillingness to cooperate and listen to the ideas of others – this goes for youngsters as well as for politicians and local powers.
I hope and pray that Copenhagen will get a new cultural centre for young people, but I also hope and pray that it will be created in a more civilized and cooperative manner than the old Youth House and that politicians and youngsters alike will be able to agree on the framework and boundaries of the project.. And above anything else, I hope that this shameful stain of violence will mark the last time in Danish history where sticks and stones will triumph over dialogue and good-will in the fight for providing a safe haven for the youngsters of Copenhagen, or any other Danish city for that matter.. Please let this be the end of it. Just for once, I’d like to see my country on CNN Headline News for some reason not involving mass fires, explosions or rioting in the streets!
Speaking of the Student House, I found this on another blog:
“although i was really worried about toke thursday evening, i went down to “studenterhuset” here in kolding. met up with christiane. we went to knud’s to have a couple of beers first. later on we arrived to studenterhuset. i met justin aka ellen and jesper first. later on i met martin as well and a couple of others. nice seeing him again. it was all in all a great and very cosy night. i really like that place.”
Isn’t that cool? 🙂 Thanks for the honorable mention, Rikke, I’m glad you like the place, we really do, too, and appreciate the support and interest shown by others. Thanks for helping us spread the word!