Groups accusing Copenhagen police of violating human rights at UN climate summit by preemptively detaining protesters.
On Saturday, as tens of thousands of people wound their way through the streets of Copenhagen in what was perhaps the largest climate change protest in human history, police targeted a group of several hundred protesters in the parade route, surrounded them, and detained them. The detained protesters were handcuffed and made to remain seated in the street for up to three hours before being released or moved to area jails.
The Day of Climate Action in Copenhagen was characterized by mostly peaceful assembly among the marchers. But a few pockets of unrest did erupt throughout the city, ultimately resulting in almost 1,000 people being detained. Tom Zeller writes at The New York Times:
"By midafternoon, as the throng made its way over the canal and southward toward the Bella Center, small bands of black-clad youths chanting anticapitalist slogans and carrying sticks and rocks could be seen infiltrating the otherwise peaceful crowd.
At around 3:30, dozens of Danish police officers penetrated the parade near its tail and surrounded a group of the more radical protesters."
According to reports, the detained individuals--some of whom were merely caught in the wrong place at the wrong time--expressed severe physical discomfort and had no access to water, medical attention or toilet facilities for several hours. Many activists are reported to have urinated themselves while detained on the ground.
"Not only have we been denied the right to protest, but our basic human rights have also been ignored in this ludicrous, staged police exercise," said Helga Matthiassen, who was detained for an hour before being released due to an injury she had recently sustained.
"It seems Danish Police have a new motto: why just criminalise protesters, when you can dehumanise them too?”
Many of the protesters targeted by the police are reportedly affiliated with the 'System Change not Climate Change' block, an umbrella group of sorts, that ran into some problems earlier in the week when the Copenhagen Police raided their sleeping quarters, confiscating materials and tools that police said the group would likely use to make trouble.
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