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COP15 prisoners riot in "climate jail"

For the second day in a row, the police have used pepperspray against the inmates in the climate prison in Valby. Climate activists smashed the cages and used benches to break cell doors open. The police are sending out daily press-releases with the latest news about the many arrests in connection with the protests against the COP15 summit, but some stories never go further than the police's leadership and are left out of the official accounts.
This is what happened both on Saturday and Sunday where pepperspray was used against the inmates in the so-called 'climate jail' in Valby. This happened in connection with a prisoner riot that involved several hundred arrested activists.

Modkraft has spoken to several climate activists who witnessed the riot.

"The atmosphere was totally crazy. Several hundred people were shouting and screaming at each other and many tore wooden benches loose inside the cages and began to hit the doors with them" says Mads who was among the people arrested after Sunday's 'Hit the Production' demo that took place on Sunday afternoon in Østerbro.

"You could see the fear in their eyes"

257 activists were "preventatively arrested" at Sunday's demonstration and were taken to the police's main detention facility, commonly known as the climate jail, on Sunday afternoon.

Mads explains that the police used pepperspray several times against him and the others who sat confined in metal cages measuring 2.4 by 5 metres.

His story is is confirmed by two Swedish girls who Modkraft has also talked to. They say that there was a "chaotic atmosphere" in the prison on Sunday evening where they were also detained in metal cages after the demonstration at Østerbro.

"The police stormed the cages and took everything from us: blankets, water bottles and benches were all removed. They used a lot of pepperspray and it quickly spread around the room.", says Elli.

She tells us that a group of inmates managed to smash open the door of one of the cells. According to Ellie and her friend Marta it was that episode that unleashed the police action on Sunday evening.

"You could see the fear in their eyes. They were very aggressive, and they threatened to use more pepperspray." says Marta.

As a reaction to the pepper-spray many inmates tore their bed-sheets in pieces and used them to cover their eyes. The two girls described the experience as "traumatic", "humiliating" and "deeply shocking".

"Many people were panicked and scared. It wasn't possible to get away." says Marta.

Police officers with hearing protection

On the internet forum "Anarchist Debate Forum" a demonstrator called Holst who was also detained at Valby describes the events as follows:

"When I was arrested today, the benches that were tied to the walls with strips were pulled off and used as battering rams against the doors. People made so much noise by chanting and rubbing plastic bottles against the cell bars that the police had go around with hearing protection. Many of the doors that had been destroyed on Saturday had been replaced with thick wooden boards. The rights papers and bedding material were ripped into confetti.

"After some time riot police rushed into the cells to remove all of the benches, (the ones that had not been ripped off the walls were cut off) sleeping mats, and water bottles. They used pepper-spray to come into the cells.

"For the remaining hours, people had to sit on the concrete floor and were given water through the bars of the cells like hamsters."

There were also problems in the climate jail on Saturday evening after the police arrested 968 demonstrators on Amagerbrogade. DR described the situation with these words:

"Inside the prison some of the detainees have among other things, pulled down walls between their cells. Many of the benches from the cells have been removed and the remaining prisoners are now sitting on the floor.

During the disturbance, police officers took dogs into the hall but then decided to take them out again.

Police officer bit in the thigh by a police dog

Another detained woman told Modkraft that she sat together with ten others in a cell in Valby. At one point "people in the cell begun to hang their blankets up so that the cops couldn't see in. The police reacted by coming in and taking our blankets."

Later, people began to strike the door to the cell so that it broke open. After that, the benches were ripped free from the wall and the police came in with their pepperspray out. They took the two people that had hit on the door, put them in plastic strips and brought them to a new cell where there wasn't anyone else. The rest of the prisoners in the cell were moved to a new cell.

The episode, which was visible to the rest of the detainees, led to a huge amount of noise that ended with the police bringing dogs into the prison hall. They brought them around the cells until one of the dogs got so worked up that it bit a police officer in the thigh.

Complaints on the way

Like Mads, the two Swedish girls were released on Sunday evening after several hours in police custody. They were driven to a nearby S-train station where they were let out. Neither of them are charged with anything or have received an explanation for why they were arrested in the first place.

All three have decided to complain about their arrest and the treatment they received afterwards. Not because they want compensation, but because they don't want anyone else to go through the same experience.

"I hope that our complaint can help to change the system. It can't be right that the police can arrest people who haven't done anything and put them in cages like animals. It is completely inhuman and borders on torture." says Elli.

According to the legal support group Rusk that deal with complaints from demonstrators, pepperspray was also used against detainees on Saturday 12 December in connection with similar prisoner unrest in the prison in Valby.

"It is totally reprehensible and gives the impression that the police are unable to handle these situations in a constructive way", says spokesperson for Rusk, Marc Jørgensen to Modkraft.dk.

Climate Justice Action, the activist network that are arranging many of the big civil disobedience actions in connection with the COP15 summit, are also outraged at the police's methods.

"The police's behaviour is completely unacceptable. The police are supposed to use pepperspray instead of shooting, but in this situation it was used against imprisoned demonstrators who could in no way have constituted a threat. It is time that someone steps in and stops the police's insane behaviour", they write in a press release.

The police however do not think that they have acted irresponsibly.

"What I have been told is that there was a cage with ten inmates where four or five of them became very violent and used wooden benches as battering rams against the cages. So we decided to use pepperspray against them, but not directly at their eyes", reports police spokesperson Henrik Suhr to politiken.dk about the episode on Sunday evening.

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