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Has Ungdomshuset Reached The End Of Its Road?

category international | housing | feature author Thursday November 30, 2006 12:41author by Punk System Destroyed Report this post to the editors

Interview With Activist from Danish Social Centre

featured image
"We choose when we want to fight!"

After waging a battle against Christian right-wing sect Faderhuset for several years, recent decisions in both the Copenhagen City Court and the National Court has ordered the current occupiers of infamous Danish social centre Ungdomshuset out on December 14th, 2006. This decision and the process through which it was made is hotly contested. This is obvious through both extensive coverage in mainstream Copenhagen social democratic newspapers like Politiken and in how opposition from the centre´s users more recently spilled over into street fighting when police attacked ( 1 ) a Reclaim the Streets demonstration.

Other links: Latest updates in English on Ungdomshuset site | You Tube video of solidarity action in Dublin | Youth Space Under Attack | A Short History of the Copenhagen Squatters Movement | A normally quiet Copenhagen scene becomes a whirlwind of activity | Danish Social Centre Under Threat | Early morning raids on Barca squats | Katsiaficas' History of the European Autonome Movement

Irish Efforts: Opening of Disco Disco | Closure of Disco Disco | Twelve Step Plan For Dublin Social Centre | Seomra Spraoi | The Leeson St Magpie Squat

This interview was carried out during their 24th birthday party which was from the 25th to 29th of October. It tries to go into some of the recent history around the Ungdomshuset court saga so far, strange alliances and how the future is likely to pan out for a building that remains highly emblematic as a symbol for the left overs of the Northern European autonome scene.

The Ungdomshuset saga seems to be finally reaching an end, at least in terms of the courts. There hasn't been any updates on the English section of the site in some time - can you fill us in?

We went to city court in 2003, and then the national court in 2006. You all know this as you've seen it on the web. After we went to the national court we did not get a date for when we had to be out of the house because we didn't move Faderhuset brought us into this "quick court" institution that there is in Denmark. We went there and they said that we have to be out on the 14th of December. This we have appealed or we are going to appeal, cause we haven't done it yet, we're going to do it, but they can still say before the 14th of December that we have to be out of here. That's the situation and we've been talking back and forth with the politicians who at the city level support us. They say that they want to do everything and that they cannot do anything more cause it's crossing over the right to private ownership which cannot be crossed over.

How have the court battles been fought so far?

When did not move out and they decided to sue, instead of suing us as a whole, they took four former activists, the one's who signed the contract in 1996 and we have used six years in court saying that it was the wrong people they sued. And there were two questions in this case, one being that they said that we had to move out and we were saying that's okay but you did not ask the right people to move. The other one was that we had to pay them 1.8 million, cause they have not had rent coming in. The court said it was the right first people that they sued for saying that they had to kick us out but they said it was the wrong people that they were suing for the money. This was in both city and national court cases.

There's a two instance right in Denmark which you can go to court two times. But we have three planes or levels of court; city, national and supreme court. We went to city and national court but we have filed, you can apply to get the permission to go a third time, we've done that. So we can get this permission, we don't know if we have this permission yet to appeal to the supreme court.

The struggle to keep Ungdomshuset open has not however been confined to the courts, what variety of actions and protests have taken place to defend it?

There's been a broad variety of actions in the streets, demonstrations, happenings, symbolic actions, political ... From the demonstration with 3,000 people, which a lot of Irish people went to, to putting hoodies over every statue in Copenhagen and giving them signs saying "For the right to have Free Spaces". And running around asking politicians for help and being annoying.

From looking over the Internet it seems the street fighting in and around the recent wave of protests was fairly intense - how did this start and can we expect more in the wake of this decision setting an eviction date?

We had this plan for the weekend, which was that there's this old saying that we always say that "We choose when we want to fight!" and we had decided not to fight for this weekend, but it turned out that the cops attacked the demonstration and we will always defend our demonstrations when we ask our friends to come up and join us. So if the cops attack us again, of course we're going to defend ourselves. It's never going to be a question when we are on the streets and it's never going to be a question when we're around the house and of course if they try and come and take our house this was only a small taste of what we're going to give them back.

During the recent protests against attempts to evict Ungdomshuset, many Irish people headed over - these mainly came from the punk and DIY milieu. Why do people from within these scenes across Europe share such an affinity and concern for Ungdomshuset?

Cause no matter what country we are in we are all fighting the same battle, which is for the right to do stuff in the way that we do it. And when we listen to each other, which we are quite good at, we see people in other countries having the exact same struggle. This normalising everything tendency that there is in Denmark, happens all over Europe. We see it in Alter Meirei in Germany, and we see it in Blitz in Oslo and we had a mail from Japan the other day from this squat getting evicted too, saying we're having the same fight as you are. It's a worldwide thing.

Rumours circulated on the net that an Irish activist was arrested in disturbances back in September - was this true? How has the case turned out?

Yes it's true. Paul from Ireland was arrested at the Reclaim the Streets. He was arrested and charged with Paragraph 119 (violence against the police). he was sentenced to remand for 11 days. ABC (Anarchist Black Cross) Copenhagen were in touch with him straight away advising him to change his court appointed lawyer to a much better and more sympathetic one. He was able to receive money, letters and clothes. He was held for nine days, where upon all charges were dropped due to the charge, cost of proceedings being out of proportion and lack of evidence. He is now eligible for a claim of roughly 900 euros for having been illegally detained. Paul is now staying in Copenhagen, helping out at the house and preparing for the eviction attempt in December.

Ungdomshuset is quite a historical space, being a site of organization for the early Danish labour movement - are those currently using it aware of much of this history and has their been any signs of opposition to the eviction from the current Danish labour movement?

The history with us and the union movement is that this is an old union house which they built in 1896 to be a place for those who had no other place in society to go and end up and rest. So we're still using it for that. The union has supported us in that way that one of the most high position people in the unions in Copenhagen went into the group of people who tried to buy the house so that they could help that way and they have supported us with claims that they support a future for this house. They have said about an eviction or the Faderhuset selling they have said that they cannot see in any way that anybody is going to work on this house without it being under police protection, if it's not us who ordered the work and they're not going to work under police protection on this house. So unless we order the work they're not going to join.

So are people who use the house aware of this history?

I think a lot of the activists are but I don't think a lot of the guests who just come here for parties are. These days of course there's a lot of writing in the papers, so if you read the papers you can hardly not know.

Ungdomshuset is famous for its K-Town festival - what's going to happen that if the place closes?

Of course we are very glad that everybody likes the K-Town festival and we hope that we can continue doing the K-Town festivals but we also ask people to respect that if we get evicted in January or February we are not going to use the next three months to plan a K-Town festival, we are going to fight to get our house back. And then you are all very welcome to a party when we succeed.

What other projects does Ungdomshuset provide space for?

By way of projects other than K-Town, we have four rooms for people who can practice with their bands, we have soup kitchens, we have workshops, we have rooms that people can come and say "I've got this project that I want to make, can I make it here?" It's almost impossible to get a room in Copenhagen to do something if you don't have the money to do it. So we're the place where people can go and try out their projects, figure out if they want to do it or if they think it's fun, or just do it.

Ungdomshuset of course provides services for more than the punk and DIY milieu, who else uses it and what do the local community think of it?

We have the soup kitchen were people can come in and they think it's very nice, cause you can come and actually see what it is and have a way into this house which is really black and dark from the outside. When we have concerts and parties and the bar opening people come in, drink a beer, see what it is, see the young kids that they're quite afraid of sometimes and use it as a way of just knowing what it is. Every year at the Fastelavn, which is kind of our Halloween, we open for the community, the children, so they come here and have a party where we decorate the whole house and they come and use it. We have had two parties for the kids of the community. The last one was a large jungle party where the institutions, the kindergartens from Norrebro, came in and we made a show and there was a circus, a kids bar, so they could use it in that way.

Did many of their parents come along?

It was the institutions who came with them, and their parents picked them up and in that way their parents came and saw the house too. One of the things that has already been decided now is that if we get the situation solved and get to keep the house, we are going to put in a heating system in the big hall, where we always have the big K-Town festival parties and the kindergarten across the street wants to use it for the kids so they can do gymnastics.

How central to politics in Copenhagen is Ungdomshuset?

It's kind of divided into two, to the mainstream representative democracy politicians, "scene" haha, we are in the situation where they want to support us in the media but when it comes to it they really don't want to support us anyway, cause they want to say that they don't want to lift a finger. They are very afraid of what's going to happen if this house gets evicted, very, very afraid and you can see it in their eyes when you talk to them. And they know it's going to end on their shoulders in the end and that's why, I think, that the last couple of months they've been doing everything to say "we support Ungdomshuset" so they can say in the end when the shit goes down "we wash our hands, we did everything we could and these kids still went out and made a street fight".

In the other sense of the not directly parliamentary politics we are very important in the way that this is the house in Copenhagen where people can come in and join meetings, start discussions, act together political conscience about stuff. I think a lot of people go through this house and learn a lot of stuff about respecting themselves and not being afraid of standing out and say what they think and after having been here to go out and join the politics scene in Copenhagen and involve themselves in a lot of discussions.

Has there been any attempts to buy Ungdomshuset from its current owners?

Two years ago we started this project with making a fund, which we actually succeeded in building up with a large support, or a really strong gathered support member crew which was five, or seven people. There was a guy called Leif Skov which was one of the id men behind Roskilde festival and has made a lot of cultural events during Denmark. He's really recognised by the plain Denmarkians. Then there was two lawyers, Lulla Forchhammer and Knud Folchack, who are also the lawyers of Christiania and who have made Baldersgade-Bumzun the collective and who has specialised in helping situations like this with making solutions, where they find the money to buy it up and they were at a lot of times.

Then there was the chief priest of Copenhagen, Anders Gadegaard, who was out talking to the leader of the Faderhuset many times and told her that it is not Christian in any way to do what she is doing and in that way that's the way that he's been helping and it's been really good looking towards the community support that we've had this priest in our, and he's had this basic idea that he just wanted to help us and let us run it and leave us afterward. So he's been really cool about that. More than you could ever expect from a priest. Then there's been an old activist from the scene, Martin Sundbøll, who's always, also been an activist in the house and among the first crew who got the house. Then there's been a professor in social living, rights and psychiatry in the university, Per Schultz Jørgensen, who's been in there talking about how important we are for the social abilities of the youth of Copenhagen.

That group of people, said "we'll help you buy the house and give the right to use it to us". They started to offer 4 million kroner, Faderhuset paid 2.6 million, and they've gradually been increasing the offer. Last Tuesday they made a closed offer and said you have until Friday at four. So yesterday they just said no and it turned out that it was over 10 million offered. Even the right wing press in Denmark said it was a really good offer and they were really surprised that they didn't take it.

The politicians talked about making a local plan for the house, can you tell us a little about this?

Every local area in Denmark has a lokalplan, that says what the lokal government want there to be in this place. Houses can be marked with different categories. One saying that in this house there should be for housing, in this house there should be an institution and so on. It is also possible to make this lokalplan for just one house. In the case with Ungdomshuset whey wanted to make a lokalplan saying, that there could be nothing else than activities for young people in this house. Faderhuset could then of course just do something for young people in the house, but they would not be able to sell it to someone who would build apartments. By doing this the house would not be worth that much.

It is legal to do this to a house, if it is because of a political wish for the community to have a house like this, but it is not legal if the main goal by doing it, is to make a house worth less, and thereby forcing the owner to sell.

After it was agreed that a plan like this should be made, the politicians went out and said that they wanted to force Faderhuset to sell, and thereby they made there own plan illegal. Therefore the plan was dropped.

How well networked is Ungdomshuset with other such projects across Europe?

There's a really good booking network and in this process we've been in now, we've used that network to write out and tell everybody about our situation. We've had the most contact with Blitz, Oslo and Alter Meirei, Kiel. We've been going there and giving good talks there and they've been coming here giving speeches at our demos.

Have there been many solidarity actions elsewhere?

There's also been a list with about twenty places there's been support parties and about ten places that have held support demonstrations, all over Europe. From Finland to Greece. From Athens to Oslo people have been doing demos, 3 squatted embassies, including Toronto.

Have there been any solidarity actions in Dublin?

Yes, there was an "occupation" of the Danish embassy and banner drop. Lots of Irish people went over to Copenhagen for the action weekend in September and people are currently organising to come over for December 14th.

If people wanted to support Ungdomshuset - what should they do?

They should always keep themselves updated. One of the things the media in Denmark is constantly focused on is how much international support there is going to be, and the Danish politicians are really afraid of the scenario of 3,000 foreign punks in Copenhagen city centre. So we need our foreign friends to already now send a message to the Danish press, that they will come and support any eviction attempt. They can do that by sending pictures of their "Support Ungdomshuset" actions to us at kontakt@ungeren.info or by writing a solidarity declaration. People should keep updated on our web page, about when to come. We promise to be better at updating.

author by kraakerpublication date Mon Nov 27, 2006 01:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

After the longest evictions in the history of the netherlands involving the use of the army, using four tanks and bridging equipment, against civilians at a cost of one and a half million euros, fort pannerden has been re-squatted this weekend by over 80 squatters from across the world (including denmark, finland, USA, Ireland, Spain, England, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Yorkshire)

Fort Pannerden resquated!
November 25th 2006 at 21.15h Fort pannerden was resquated by a group of about 80 squaters from all over the Netherlands. Tuesday 7 and wednesday 8 november it was evicted by the police helped by the army. The official reason for the eviction was "uninhabitability" which is rather strange since the local counsel is planning to house "anti-squaters" in the building.

Fort Pannerden was squated june 25th 2000. The occupants repaired and maintained the building. They cared for the nature reserve in which the fort is situated and opened it up for visitors and organised small scale activities.

21.15h: Fort Pannerden is back into the hands of the squaters. A small group went ahead to asses the situation, soon more squaters (about 80) arrived. There are people inside and the entrance is being barricaded. there are still people ariving.
The three security guards present have left head over heels. a couple of neighbours came to look what was happening and have no problems with the return of the squaters. There is no police sighted.

21.46h: Two policeman arived at the beginning of the dike leading to the Fort. They were not amused at all. A fotographer was told to immediately stop taking pictures. There are about 25 people at the dike and about 60-70 people inside barricading some more. The two policeman won't get past the 25 people, so they have no idea what has happened inside. There are still more neighbours ariving to look form a distance.

22.19h: A second police car arived and left. The two policeman who were first at the scene have callmed down a bit and are now walking through the fields, but they are not getting close to the Fort. There is a baricade made up out of pallets and a caravan at the beginning of the dike, so you can't acces the "driveway" to the Fort with a car. a second fence is erected in front of the drawbridge. There is a barrel with fire on the roof as a beakon to let the neighbourhood know the squaters are back "home". The spirits are high. An occupant said to the police: "We're back in and there is nothing you can do about it, if you want us out, you'll have to call the army again." The corporate press has also arived.

22.32h: The drawbridge is in service again and was immediately raised. Spirits are excited. The squaters are sounding the sirens.

22.42h: Two other police cars arived, they are standing a bit further away and are whatching things. It doesn't look like they are planing to do more then keeping a close eye on things.

23.23h: More corporate media is ariving. The neighbours have discussed amongst themselves and have made up their minds about the resquating. They don't want another military eviction as earlier this month. They are intending to demand the counsil to open a normal dialogue with the squaters.
The belongings of the people who were evicted some weeks ago are all still in the Fort, opened, searched and trashed. In contrary to what the local counsil has said the belonings are not carrefully handled and it was not intended at all to return the belonging. They would probbaly have been thrown away soon.

1.10h: More police is ariving. They are around the corner, a bit in hiding. The police judges the first barrikade to be a problem, since it is placed on public road. More corporate media is arriving, they are given a tour around the Fort at the moment. There are still neighbours pressent, although some of them have returned home.


Original eviction - http://www.indymedia.nl/nl/2006/11/40341.shtml

Related Link: http://www.fortpannerden.nl/
author by PSDpublication date Wed Nov 29, 2006 16:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This sunday a demonstration against the church Faderhuset turned into resulted in police brutality and mass arrests.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/79936
author by dunkpublication date Tue Dec 05, 2006 17:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Makabra : the art of occupation : el arte de okupacion

Makabra have just produced a little bit of magic, entering and occupying the old Can Ricart factory in the Pouble Nou Barrio of Barcelona, where 60 years ago the CNT trucks left from to attempt to build a better world. Now its their turn to add to the unfolding story of creativity, passion and the love of life. Viva Makabra

Weaving together many strands of life here in Barcelona (community, squat, circus, political, media, humour, history, story telling) they now have a lovley new home and complete support from the ever helpful neighbours. Their struggle also has has the support of the UN commisioner for housing, who said "I think your struggle is just, what your doing is correct, I´d just request you to be peaceful.... and keep performing."

Perhaps this circus world is getting bigger and bigger, who knows what it will lead to…


all audio

theres rumours of a little gathering of sorts next febuary, carnival time, perhaps irish heads might pop over and join in in the madness...

author by Margaretpublication date Thu Dec 07, 2006 15:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

David Rovic's describes Ungdomshuset from his first visit and the situation today.


author by Getoutofourcitypublication date Sun Dec 17, 2006 10:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Last night, activists from ungdomshuset showed to the danish public what they are all about. I am speaking on behalf of many people living in Copenhagen who have had it with them. They must go now. We, who have jobs, live in the area and try to maintain a normal way of living are glad the house will soon be emptied of these anarchists who claim to be peacfull people, yet they thow stones, bottles, fireworks, paint, etc, justifying themselves and illegal activites. They offered to buy the house for 10 mil Danish Kr. Why not use the money and buy a house somewhere else, where you can have your parties, and where we dont have to look at the mess you create on our streets each weekend after your parties.

Youre brats who dont want to adapt or ajust to the normal rules of society. Some years ago I would have sympatised with you, but now, after what you did yesterday, I have no sympathy at all with the way you act, and the claims you give that you have the right to stay in Ungdomshuset. We will all be glad when youre gone and out of your part of the city.

its been a long wait, and boy am I glad its over soon!

author by Tumbridge wells?publication date Mon Dec 18, 2006 16:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You are speaking on behalf of the people of Copenhagen? Were you voted into this position or is it self appointed?

I have a job and I was there. So many of the posts on indymedia denmark seem to fall back on this lazy and almost cliched retort of "geta job", yet still fail to deal with any of the issues, merely feigned outrage.
Support for ungdomshuset in their own community and neighbourhood is still and always has been incredibly high. This can be seen from the assistence given to the demonstrators on Saturday evening, and by the numerous letters of support, conversations and even presents of flowers, cigarettes, etc. that have been coming in since saturday. People identify with it and recognise it as a part of Norrebro, with the vast majority of the users and activists being from and living in the neighbourhood.

author by TWpublication date Mon Dec 18, 2006 16:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Youre brats who dont want to adapt or ajust to the normal rules of society. "

Oh, just to let you know, this was my favourite part of your post.

author by Regurgitatorpublication date Mon Dec 18, 2006 16:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Reports that 270 people were arrested including 2 Irish and that the latter are released today.

Just for context, when you're arrested and released it means that they've got absolutely nothing on you. So probably this was the usual police assault where they rounded up everyone they could without any good basis.

author by iosafpublication date Tue Dec 19, 2006 20:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That particular Danish squat has reached the end of the road. I think it is important also to clear up any mis-understandings which Duncan's comment above might cause. the Makabra people who at point of long awaited eviction numbered over 66% tourists (including Dunk) moved to various other temporary sites all of which were evicted. Then there was a shake of an old bag. The Can ricart site has been a source of urban planning troubles for many years as locals clash with the land-owner (the Marques de Palma). The courts evicted them last week. In the meantime those of the Makabra assembly who were "really good" at circus or "well connected with "cirque d soleil" did a deal with council & government & under the "cirque d soleil" umbrella are engaged in a festival now. Concurrent to all this the government introduced new legislation on "abandoned property". If a property has been empty for over 2 years they are proposing the right to compulsory purchase or lease. This naturally was welcomed by the "okupe assembly" but that welcome was embittered by the continuing eviction of social centres in outlying cities around Barcelona. In the last two weeks more squats have been closed than in the previous year. So pretty little "magic" which Duncan refers to. The bitter pill has become harder to swallow as yesterday in concession to the right wing parties of opposition the Catalan government decided to add eviction of squats legislation to the proposed "right to housing act".
This will ( if passed) allow rapid eviction not only of publically owned property but also privately owned property such as the Can ricart site. In the discussion of all this our attention has been brought to the tourist or outsider element not only in recent problems in Barcelona ( I refer readers to my report on the suspension of the EU housing ministers' summit, & my oblique references to ground rent & landlords http://www.indymedia.ie/article/78839 http://www.indymedia.ie/article/79019 ) but also the scenes of destruction in Denmark & the exact arrest profiles of those held responsible. Which links it all in for you. These are not just local issues they are indeed European ones. Without turning a comment into an essay - I'd draw readers attention to the similar confusion of property rights, anti-system riots, police brutality, squated social centres, evictions of both social centres & homeless "digs" in Switzerland, France, Italy & Portugal of the last 6 months. All these states (except the Swiss) supported the Spanish state's decision to postpone the "EU housing summit". Duncan wrongly above claims the UN housing commisioner supported Makabra. He did not. He was speaking at a meeting organised by the Barcelona housing assembly who in since the eviction of Makabra played an important role in organising their next steps for them.

What can I tell you is coming next?

Well it's all politics & games & precious little magic. For what's worth the Ricart aristocratic family have been reported this week for faking the age of thier bonded & blended whiskey and other liquors. (They gained their land & title for invention Pernod.)
Anyone on the holiday trail is invited of course to the December 23 "You won't have a house in your fucking life" demonstration. Which is our annual date when we make noise in the centre square. Please come along.

Related Link: http://bcn.vdevivienda.net/
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