A police handout photo taken in the days after Pusher Street was cleared. Photo: Københavns Politi
Police Director Thorkild Fogde told Politiken newspaper that although hash and marijuana are still being openly sold in Christiania’s Pusher Street, the level has fallen dramatically over the past two months.
“We estimate that the trade is reduced to at least one fourth of what it was before the stalls were torn down,” he said.
The notorious open-air cannabis market has changed significantly since two police officers and one civilian were shot on August 31st in a drug bust gone bad. Following that incident, residents of the enclave, which was established by squatters in 1971, made the decision to kick out the organized criminals behind the market and tear down Pusher Street’s cannabis stalls.
Christiania residents and police alike acknowledge that cannabis sales are still openly taking place in Pusher Street, but both parties see it as a sign of success that the sales are now being carried out in a less organized manner and in the absence of permanent physical structures, camouflage nets, and dealers’ covered faces.
“We’re not at all talking about the open cannabis supermarket like it was before. The sales have taken on a more personal feel and a form that we can live with out here,” Hulda Mader, a spokeswoman for the fund behind Christiania, told Politiken.
Fogde said that police and residents need to work together to ensure that organized criminals don’t reestablish themselves in Christiania.
“If we are to maintain the current situation, the Christianites need help and it is our opinion that they can’t do it alone,” he said.
While Fogde touted Copenhagen Police’s success in Pusher Street, critics argue that the cannabis trade has simply spread throughout the rest of Copenhagen. They point to a spate of recent gang-related shootings as proof.
Fogde, however, said the gang conflicts “don’t have anything to do with Pusher Street”.
“The information points to [the recent shootings] originating in the gang environment and having to do with the establishments of new groups and a changed power structure between the existing groups,” he told Politiken.
Kim Møller, an Aalborg University professor with a PhD in the organized cannabis trade, told news agency Ritzau that just because sales are down in Christiania doesn’t mean that the cannabis trade on the whole is suffering.
“Usage doesn’t fall when the supply is temporarily limited. It just moves elsewhere and can lead to a small price increase,” Møller said.