By Matt Whitby, Isabelle Tolhurst and Sana Mazloum
The success of the Global Day of Action protests in Copenhagen was marred today, with close to a thousand people arrested and hundreds of others detained for several hours after a police crackdown on potential violence.
What started as a very peaceful and optimistic demonstration was tainted, after police detained a segment of the crowd containing a group of youths wearing black hoods and masks.
The rally was diverted down an alternate route after hundreds of riot police cut off and surrounded youths who were affiliated to the Black block protest movement.
Reasons for the police action unknown
Several demonstrators confirmed that the police had detained the group to search for weapons, but one source claimed the youths were held in order to ensure no trouble was started.
Two girls who were caught up in the action and quickly released claimed the police were trying to break the block so people couldn’t walk together.
“They’re pushing them more and more together and there is nowhere out on the other side either, they’re trying to block the people who they think are dangerous,” one girl said.
Other protestors not caught behind the police lines spent several hours remonstrating with police for the freedom of their comrades, many chanting ‘let them go’ to the beat of drums.
The line was pushed forward
Police continued to force the crowd away from the action, with one arrest made and a bottle behind thrown.
Although Copenhagen resident Anders Solem says the demonstration was very quiet and tame in comparison to past protests, but also mentioned there were far more people dressed in black.
“Most of the troubles on the street were started by young people who are not really environmental activists but just angry kids who want to fight the police,” he says.
Hours after the detention, a police spokesperson refused to reveal the reason behind restricting the movement of what was then a peaceful demonstration.
The largest environmental rally ever
Earlier in the day over 100.000 people gathered in the palace square at Christiansborg to voice concern about climate change to world leaders who will soon descend upon Copenhagen.
The crowds braved the freezing cold in the Danish capital, with 92 nationalities representing many environmental groups, all calling for a fair and legally binding target at COP15.
The march finished at the Bella Center where protestors held a candle lit vigil late into the night.