Cops beat back protesters

Cops beat back protesters

The heat is on: A protester shouts at police officers blocking a road during a demonstration outside the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen on Wednesday. REUTERS

The police tried to disperse the chanting, drum-beating protesters who had marched from a train station about a mile away to try to make their way to the Bella Center, where representatives from nearly 200 countries are meeting to try to reach an accord on climate change.

A group of 50 to 100 delegates emerged from the convention centre, seeking to meet with the protestors, but they, too, were driven back by the police. In Wednesday’s demonstrations, the largest so far of the conference, the protesters began massing north of the centre shortly before noon and pressed into a tight line of riot police blocking access to the hall.

Some of the officers wielded truncheons against the chanting, shoving protesters in a close-order scrum. News agencies reported that tear gas was fired at the crowd. After forcibly removing protestors from a truck parked in an intersection outside the Bella Center, police kept moving the protesters backwards, nearly pushing some into a watery marsh.

Human chains

As the police vans advanced, skirmishes broke out with protestors who formed human chains and chanted their commitment to nonviolence and to helping people in parts of the world that they said would be hardest hit by climate change.

A number of protestors encouraged individual groups to keep pushing against the police.

The Police deployed water cannon at the southeast corner of the center to push back the marchers if necessary. “I can only say,” said Per Larsen, chief coordinator for the Danish police, “that they will not be able to enter the Bella Center.”

Climate Justice Action, a Danish umbrella group that has served as the organising agent for a number of planned and spontaneous demonstrations during the conference, has a permit to march along a specified route south of the venue.
According to one organiser, Anne Petermann, the overarching message of Wednesday’s action is that the United Nations process for curbing climate change is a failure, and that there are “thousands of other solutions to climate change that aren’t being considered,” she said.

‘Rights violation’

Another member of the protest group, Richard Bernard, said he expected arrests and possible clashes with police. “Danish police have been violating human rights all week,” he said.

Authorities were restricting access to the rail station serving the Bella Center, forcing many conference attendees to walk a mile or more in cold drizzle and biting winds.

Groups of delegates and members of nongovernmental organisations continued to stream on foot pass subway stations that had been closed to prevent demonstrators from converging.

They passed groups of detained protesters seated in neat rows, their hands tied with plastic police strips. Behind a department store, about a dozen detained protesters under police guard chanted anti-capitalist slogans.

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