Copenhagen Police Brace for More Protests Over Evictions

Danish police braced for more demonstrations Friday after some of the worst street clashes in recent years in Copenhagen, sparked by the eviction of squatters from a building, officials said.

Hundreds of officers were on the streets Thursday and a similar amount were expected to be in place Friday. Police said reinforcements from other parts of the country have been called in.

"We are taking all eventualities into consideration and we will be plastering the whole city with police," Copenhagen police operations chief Per Larsen said.

More than 200 demonstrators were arrested and 25 people were treated for injuries Thursday when protesters threw cobblestones, lit fires and overturned cars in the Danish capital.

Some of the arrested and injured included foreigners, who had joined the demonstrations that started in the morning after a helicopter hoisted members of Denmark's anti-terror police onto the building's roof and started evicting squatters.

The eviction of the 35 squatters from the former theater in central Copenhagen drew ire from youth, who have viewed it as free public housing for years.

The injured included a German man who suffered head injuries, two officers with minor burns, and a Dane who had several fingers blown off by a powerful firecracker he had planned to throw at police.

Early Friday, city employees cleared the streets of charred cars, rubble, barricades and smoldering remains of bonfires. The smell of smoke hung heavy over the usually quiet Danish capital.

In neighboring Germany, up to 800 people demonstrated Thursday evening in Hamburg in a show of solidarity with the Danish squatters, and 14 people were detained. Demonstrations also were held in the capitals of Norway and Sweden.

The eviction of the building had been planned since last year, when courts ordered the squatters to leave the house and hand it over to a Christian congregation that bought it six years ago. The squatters refused, saying the city had no right to sell the four-story building while it was still in use.

They have demanded another building as replacement, and a foundation backing the squatters has offered to pay US$2.1 million for another facility.

In December, a rally of some 1,000 people protesting the eviction turned violent, and police detained some 300 people.