The free neighborhood of Christiania could soon undergo a radical change. The mayor of Copenhagen, Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, has indeed indicated that she plans to completely close Pusher Street, this street known to tourists – but not only – for its illegal cannabis trade.
What prompts Ms. Andersen to make this statement is the increase in violence and crime in Pusher Street.
“If the people of Christiania make it clear that they want to close Pusher Street and do something else with this area, the municipality of Copenhagen is ready to help draw up a plan to study what can be done with this street,” said Ms. Andersen in an interview with the tabloid Ekstra Bladet.
The violence in Pusher Street is not new. Several gangs are vying for control of this popular place, with its share of stabbings and shootings. A 23-year-old young man, well known to the area, was shot and killed in Pusher Street at the end of October 2022.
Since the 1970s, Christiania or Freetown Christiania, in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen, has been the country’s “Green Light” district. It’s a mini-Amsterdam, with comparable canals and architecture and an open tolerance to soft drugs including cannabis.
The military base at Bådsmandsstræde, on the island of Amager, was transformed into a municipality in 1973 and endowed with an autonomous government. Hippies and anarchists established a social democratic government structure and made the region a permanent “social experiment”. The first thing you see upon entering Christiania is a fresco depicting a fan leaf, as well as a fist crushing a hypodermic needle, signifying the rule of no hard drugs in the area.
Since around 1980, hashish has been openly sold in Pusher Street, which is why the neighborhood has enforced a strict no-photography rule. But organized crime comes to darken the picture, and it is no longer the utopia it was.
“The violence and crime around Pusher Street has reached a level that we cannot and do not want to deal with,” Ms Andersen told Ekstra Bladet. “In Copenhagen, I think we have to make room for Christiania. It is both quirky and alternative. He is creative. But this harsh and organized violence must be excluded from the future of Christiania”.
An ongoing debate also proposes to legalize cannabis in the country.