Saturday, July 14, 2007

Saving Iceland celebration marred by police intervention

It started off as peaceful and fun filled protest party, but turned ugly when officers of the Icelandic police force put an end to Rave Against the Machine – a reclaim the streets type event being hosted by our brothers and sisters in the struggle against heavy industry, Saving Iceland - on Saturday July 14 in downtown Reykjavik. Just 20 minutes from the end of the parade, police intervened, causing a complete stop to the slowed flow of traffic behind the Rave.
For more than an hour, the Rave stood still on Snorrabraut, close to Rejkyavik's main shopping street. Us ravers were led by the antics of our very own Clown Army. We partied in the streets for an end to heavy industry in Iceland, South Africa and Trinidad. Scores of Icelanders gathered on the corners, giving support, reading information sheets and generally enjoying the music and Iceland's first reclaim the streets celebration. In the midst of negotiations, the police officers seemed to change their minds, and a struggle began between the peaceful protestors and the officers. Suddenly they were grabbing clowns, bystanders. One young woman was grabbed by the hair and thrown to the ground. Officers then forcibly removed the driver of the music van from the driver's seat. At the same time five officers had grabbed two of the ravers and pinned them to the pavement. As the crowd chanted 'the whole world is watching' and 'Hitler police', the police continued their brutality against the unarmed protestors. Cameras recorded the violence, but the other ravers kept calm, asking what were the charges. The dj played on.
Moments later the two arrestees were picked up like trapped animals, their feet and hands bound behind them and put into the police van. At this time they also grabbed another bystander who had questioned their brutality. When the van of police drove away with the prisoners, another police officer broke the glass on the driver's seat of the music van and disconnected the power. The speakers went silent, but the voices of the people gathered continued in the streets. The police then left the scene and the rave continued to the police station three blocks away where the arrested ravers were being held. The still free ravers gathered outside the station singing and drumming. On two occasions the police emerged from their fortress to intimidate the ravers, at one point to rip down the banners that were hung from the front of the station and then to arbitrarily grab at any dancer within reach.
The latest news is that the arrested ravers are being held overnight at the station in downtown Rejkyavik and that they would be released by Sunday morning. The police have thus far witheld information on their medical status, although an ambulance was seen entering the facility.


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