Pubdate: Wed, 17 Mar 2004
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 The Associated Press
Author: The Associated Press


Police raided Copenhagen's famed hippie enclave Tuesday, detaining 53
people in a major crackdown on the open sale of hashish.

The drugs are illegal in Denmark but authorities have tolerated the
sale of hashish in Christiania, a counterculture oasis of
psychedelic-coloured buildings, no government, no cars and no police.
Residents banned the sale of harder drugs in 1980.

About 200 police officers moved into the 34-hectare enclave at 5 a.m.,
while also raiding homes in the city. The raid lasted 10 hours.
Helmeted officers tore down a few small woodsheds and removed tables
that were used to sell hashish, Copenhagen police spokesman Flemming
Steen Munch said.

"The raid is not against Christiania, it's against the hashish sale,"
Munch said.

Forty-four of the 53 arrested would be charged with selling drugs and
could face sentences of up to 10 years in jail, he added.

Ole Wagner Hansen, who heads the drug squad, said police had seized
some hashish but could not immediately say how much.

Peter Plett, a spokesman for enclave's more than 900 residents,
criticized the police actions.

"The whole thing is a big media stunt," Plett said. "We have decided
not to do anything unless they start tearing down our houses."

Police said they would not destroy any dwellings.

Standing on ladders, officers dismantled store awnings along
Christiania's badly paved Pusher Street where vendors were selling
hashish. Others tore down woodsheds of alleged drug dealers and
removed parked bicycles before a police truck pushed away large rocks
that residents had put up as roadblocks to prevent cars from entering
the area.

Tuesday's raid was part of a nine-month investigation into illegal
drug sales at Christiania, Munch said.

In recent months, police have carried out a dozen smaller raids.

The government said Friday that Christiania could remain an
alternative lifestyle community as long as residents obey the law, pay
rent and stop selling drugs.

"If this can help our case and Christiania can survive, then this is
OK," Peter Post, another spokesman for the residents, said of the raid.

In 1987, Christiania was recognized as a "social experiment" and
residents were later given the right to use the land, but not own it.

The government now wants to end that agreement. 
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