The first major protests at the Copenhagen conference saw 68 demonstrators arrested, Danish police said yesterday. Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Bella Centre, which is hosting the conference, to protest against corporate CEOs meeting there to discuss the role of businesses in the fight against global warming.
Police detained anti-capitalist protesters under new powers of pre-emptive arrest, passed by the Danish parliament to deal with potential violence during the talks. Demonstrators complained that officers also employed the controversial "kettling" tactic, for which British police were criticised during this year's G20 protests. Police spokesman Henrik Moeller Nielsen said the detentions were preventative to avoid disorder. There were no reports of violence.
"It is really disappointing that we've been treated like this," said a Rory, a 29-year-old protester from London. "The police have stopped a peaceful protest and the importance of what we're trying to do here has been undermined by their playground tactics. We've brought no aggression here. They're the ones with the guns."
Danish police estimated that about 250 protesters were present. However, demonstrators said as many as 1,000 protesters were there.
Under the new powers, Danish police can detain for up to 12 hours anyone they suspect might break the law in the near future. Anyone found to be "obstructing the police" could also be jailed for 40 days under the legislation, announced in October.
Protesters, many of whom have travelled long distances, yesterday said they were unwilling to risk arrest so early in the two-week conference but vowed further protests. Oscar from Denmark said: "There'll be a big riot at Noeborro tomorrow. Although the police split us up today we'll organise a breakaway group from the main march tomorrow. Some people from Never Trust a Cop expect there will be smashing windows and setting fire to cars."