Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ungdomshuset Revisited

highwayscribery received an e-mail from the "Overbergmesteren" in Copenhagen who was responding to our post from a two days earlier on the eviction of those in the Ungdomshuset or "Youth House." We did a post two days earlier you can scroll down to; the one with all the photographs.

Dear highway scribe,

Thank you for your e-mail. You are concerned about the situation in Copenhagen and I can assure you, so am I.

I am saddened and angered by the actions which we have witnessed throughout the last days. The struggle for cultural diversity can never be won by hurling stones at the police. In their despair the young people of Ungdomshuset have taken the innocent citizens of Copenhagen hostage. The streets of Copenhagen have been turned into war zones cutting peaceful citizens off from work, friends and family. Violence is never a tolerable solution – least not when it affects innocent people.

I am a strong supporter of the cultural life which existed around Ungdomshuset and I do want Copenhagen to maintain its cultural diversity. Therefore, we have made a large effort to find peaceful solutions to this complex problem. For months I have worked together with several political parties in City Hall to make an acceptable offer. We have tried everything possible within the boundaries of Danish law. During this process I was surprised that the users of Ungdomshuset where not fully committed to finding constructive solutions which would make sure that they could keep up their activities on their own premises.

If the city was to give Ungdomshuset a new house for free, the city would also have to be in control of it. Ungdomshuset did not want that, and we respected that. Therefore, a foundation was willing to buy a new house for Ungdomshuset. This solution was the only possible way to ensure the users of Ungdomshuset total autonomy and freedom, but unfortunately this was also rejected.

If this offer had been accepted, Ungdomshuset could have been going on peacefully in another house no more than 500 metres away from the old one. But they did not accept. In stead of thinking of the good of their underground culture and activities these young people are putting themselves into the role as victims. With such an attitude it is impossible to find constructive solutions for Ungdomshuset and the citizens of Copenhagen.

Yours sincerely

Ritt Bjerrgaard

The Overbergermesteren sounds reasonable enough and the city's efforts seem fair, too. Of course, all the offers need not have been made if the kids got to keep the house they were in and the government found another place for the Christian church that wants to move in. The missive paints a picture of some rather unreasonable people, but the scribe suspects that chip on their collective shoulder came from somewhere and that their trust in Overbergermesteren was probably limited to begin with. The city gave them a house once, why should they trust authorities to allow their activities to continue in another space, the ultimate control of the which did not accrue to them?

An educated man used to the greasy wheels of politics, Mr. Bjerrgaard would naturally know how to come off best, especially when he's worrying about the innocent people of Copenhagen.

But the highway scribe thinks the squatters are the ones getting the worst of it in this video.

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