Copenhagen's Christiania Will Tear Up Pusher Street to End Drug Trade

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.14 - 2024 3:03 PM CET

World
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A Danish hippie oasis has fought drug sales for years. Now, locals want to tear up the whole street.

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In the center of the Danish capital, Copenhagen, lies the freewheeling hippie oasis Christiania, notorious for its free-spirited inhabitants, unique architecture, art installations - and drug sales.

In a dramatic effort to combat the illegal hashish sales that have sparked gang conflicts and clashes with law enforcement, the residents of Copenhagen's Christiania neighborhood are gearing up to physically remove Pusher Street. The street has become notorious for its open drug trade, leading to deadly outcomes. Volunteers are being rallied for the task on April 6, as reported by the Berlingske newspaper, with participants offered a cobblestone as a keepsake.

What will come in place of the now-infamous Pusher Street is still undecided.

Christiania and Hash Trade

Residents are striving to maintain the essence of Christiania as a bastion of free expression and communal living, home to political visionaries and remnants of the hippie movement. For decades, Christiania has been known for its open hash sales, conducted from colorful, eye-catching stalls that line its streets, amidst vividly painted buildings. However, locals argue that the drug trade is dominated by external criminal factions, posing a threat to the very fabric of their community.

Since its inception in 1973, when a group of hippies took over an abandoned naval base to establish a utopia grounded in the era's ideals of free love, minimal state intervention, prohibition of automobiles, and an absence of police enforcement, Christiania has stood in stark contrast to the rest of Copenhagen.

After engaging in a prolonged battle with government authorities for over forty years, the residents finally gained ownership of their homes in 2011 when the government sold the 84-acre enclave to a foundation run by Christiania's community for 85.4 million kroner ($12.5 million).

Today, nearly 700 adults and 150 children call Christiania home, making it one of Copenhagen's most visited sites.

The community has repeatedly tried to shut down the notorious hash market located on a street approximately 100 meters long. The police have identified the Hells Angels and the banned group Loyal to Family as the masterminds behind the lucrative trade.

The local authorities turned a blind eye to the hash sales until 2004, at which point they began to intervene more aggressively. In an effort to forestall police actions, the residents dismantled the hash stalls themselves, though the trade quickly resumed. In a bold move last year, they deployed heavy machinery to demolish the market, only to be thwarted by masked individuals.

Collaborative Efforts with Authorities

Over the recent weeks, Christiania has collaborated with city officials to devise a strategy aimed at eradicating the drug market, with plans to introduce alternative community activities in its place.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Housing has highlighted the elimination of the organized hash trade as a critical condition for Christiania to receive 14.3 million kroner ($2.1 million) allocated for redevelopment efforts.

Tragically, the drug trade has been marked by violence, including the death of a 30-year-old drug vendor in August, with four others wounded. In 2022, another vendor was fatally shot at his booth, and the year before, a man lost his life in a shooting at the entrance of the same street.

In response to the surge in violence, Copenhagen's mayor has issued a plea to tourists and visitors, advising them against purchasing hash in Christiania to help curb the cycle of deadly incidents.

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