Since the 1980’s, alcoholics in Copenhagen have had a place to meet and drink their days and livers away – a small, secluded area in Nørrebroparken, one of the city’s parks, called “Sumpen”. The name literally means “The Swamp” but is also a pun on the Danish word “Sumpe” or “Forsumpe” – going to seeds.
While it is debatable whether a society should pay for a place where people can drink themselves to death, at least to my knowledge the drinkers who came there weren’t bothering anyone and the park kept them out of the way and, hence, prevented them from being a nuisance.
But today, early in the morning, the shrubberies and small sheds were removed. Not to annoy the drunks, as they have left the area some time ago. It was to stop the people who forced the drunks away.
(Link to story – in Danish. Sorry, I don’t think any English-speaking newspapers have the story. For that matter, I have never heard a newspaper speak English. 🙂 )
Drug dealers had taken over the area, driven the relatively harmless drunkards out, and proceeded to use “Sumpen” to sell hashish and marijuana (and possibly stronger drugs). In addition, they hid their “goods” on a nearby playground where children might find them. So the authorities decided to tear the place down. Early in the morning, before the pushers had arrived and could harass the workers. But still, the work was carried out under police protection.
Errrr… Does anyone else see something wrong here?
If the authorities want to fight criminal behavior, it would make more sense to remove the criminals than to remove the place they operate. When the more or less open hashish trade in Christiania was driven out, the only result was that the trade moved to all over Copenhagen, making it harder to control.
And if the police has to protect workers from carrying out their duties for fear of organized criminals, and the work has to be carried out before the criminals can wake up and harass them, maybe it was about time those organized criminals were apprehended and locked up, not forced to find a new secluded place to sell drugs.
The question is simply, who runs the city – the authorities or the criminals?
In the meantime the city of Copenhagen is planning to provide a new place for the alcoholics. Here’s hoping they can have this new place in peace!
(Oh, and for the record – in my opinion the best ways to stop drug-related crime would be to legalize the drugs.)