Details on the Protest, International Youth Sit-in, Harper Arrives
Yesterday I filmed the Reclaim Power civil society protest. I arrived at 11:30 and things were just getting started. There, hundreds of protesters gathered around a semi-circle human wall of police in riot gear standing front of a wall of police vans in front of the fence blocking access to the Bella Centre. As I arrived, the event leader was calling on people to push through the police, climb over or though the police vans and over the fence. Protesters surged forward and were pushed back by police. After this, people milled around chanting messages but after about half an hour the police decided to declare the event illegal and threatened everyone with arrest and started closing in on protesters. Another wall of police vans that had been at the back of the protest started moving in, slowly pushing people towards a wagon that was serving as home base for the event. People started making a human chain and a bicycle barricade around the wagon to protect it from being taken over by police. I was shocked that the police vans just kept advancing; they were literally 3 feet from me. Things started getting hairy from here on in and police closed in from all directions crushing protesters together. I witnessed several examples of police violence toward protesters, some of which you can see in the videos I posted; people being hit with billy clubs and pushed around. At one point, I was behind the rear line of police vans when the doors of the vans and 10 police poured out of each of the 7 or so vans, clearly showing their intent to shut the event down. A helicopter was circling above the entire time. The vans kept advancing, running over street signs and bicycles. At this point the first smoke bombs were launched and the vans so tight around the event that I could no longer get a clear shot of the protesters, police kept screaming at me when I would get to close and told that if I wasn’t with the press to !@$& off.
I find this point particularly interesting: Media were allowed full access to the protests. The police were willing to let the press film all of the police brutality, which doesn’t make sense to me. It should also be pointed out that every single person had a camera or camcorder going so there is a massive amount of footage of the event, ensuring that the Danish police will be highly criticized for their actions which have already been decried by everyone in Copenhagen. This event was supposed to be peaceful and in my opinion, the police escalated things leading to the violence I witnessed. When I could no longer see things clearly and when the smoke bombs went off, I left. Friends of mine stuck it out and were pepper sprayed. Because the media were allowed full access they were sprayed too. This is outrageous: impartial observers and peaceful protesters treated like criminals for standing up for their belief that inaction on climate change cannot be borne, their frustration that people from developing countries and civil societies are being ignored and expelled from the negotiations.
I have never seen anything like this and I’m glad I was there to witness it. The world was watching and the world has seen how Danish police and the Danish government chose to deal with civil society voicing their opinions.
Click here to see the second civil society march of the day. Note the police presence.
Another amazing development was the international youth sit-in during the opening of the high level segment of this year’s international climate change negotiations, a group of approximately 30 international youth staged a sit-in, refusing to leave the talks until a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty was reached. The group included young people from both developed and developing nations, including 10 Canadians.
The young people gathered and initiated the sit-in at the main hall of the conference centre where they immediately began to read the names of the more than 11 million people who signed a petition demanding the same fair, ambitious, and legally binding agreement that is needed to avoid dangerous climate change and usher in a global clean energy economy. Several youth were dragged away by security only to return to the circle. Please read more about this inspiring stand by international youth here.
In terms of the negotiations themselves, Climate Action Network Canada has this to say:
"Negotiations are still in crisis, but we may be getting back on track. They have resolved a number of procedural issues, decided on the texts that they will be negotiating, set up working groups to move the negotiations forward, & Secretary Clinton announced $100 billion in financing for developing countries. We are still working out the details, but this could be the beginning of a breakthrough."
In other news, PM Stephen Harper arrives today so we’ll see if his presence here changes anything.
You can watch the main plenary session live here