Behind the scenes of Christiania

by Martin Choi and Marina Starodubtseva

After the shooting in Christiania on 31 August that ended with two police officers and a bystander being shot, the future of Christiania hangs precariously in a struggle for power between the establishments, the gangs and the residents of Christiania.

It was a historic moment for Christiania when residents tore down the famous pusher shops a few days after the shooting on 31 August.

The entrance of Christiania before and after the shooting. 

“We are not capitalists and we are not socialists,” says Jorn Balther, an activist who resides in Christiania. “We are a bunch of hippies so we smoke hash. Hash is illegal in Denmark, and we have been selling hash for the past 45 years.”

This special community has always had clashes with establishments as well as gangs interested in their famous hash market.

Communal meetings had been held at night about what to do with the hash situation and the gangs. One such meeting had been held the night the two policemen and the bystander got shot.

“We decided that same night to take down all the small hash shops and make some new rules,” said Balther.

But what they are afraid of is a big gang war, which residents of Christiania have been through in 2004. A month after the police closed down the area that year, the biggest gang war in Denmark broke out in Copenhagen. And according to Balther it has continued, and is escalating right now.

Christiania is currently in a process of social normalization following these events.