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A Danish Hippie Oasis Has Fought Drug Sales for Years

Now, locals want to tear up the whole street.

Police patrol Pusher Street in at Christiania, Copenhagen, Friday, May 25, 2018, after the street reopened after having been closed for three days.
Police patrol Pusher Street in at Christiania, Copenhagen, Friday, May 25, 2018, after the street reopened after having been closed for three days.
Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix via AP, File

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) β€” The inhabitants of Copenhagen's freewheeling Christiania neighborhood plan to dig up the aptly named Pusher Street, in their latest attempt to stop illegal hashish sales which have led to deadly gang turf wars and sometimes violent confrontations with the police.

Residents of the hippie enclave are calling for volunteers to help dig up the street on April 6, the Berlingske newspaper wrote Thursday. All are welcome, and participants can take home one of its cobblestones as a souvenir.

It is yet unclear what will replace the street.

The residents are fighting to preserve Christiania's reputation as a "free-wheeling society" made up of political idealists and aging hippies. For years, hash has been sold openly in Christiania from roadside stalls, among buildings painted in psychedelic colors. But inhabitants say that feuding gangs, not them, control the trade and the survival of their community hinges on ending it.

The neighborhood has been a world apart from the rest of Copenhagen since 1973, when hippies squatted at a derelict naval base and set up a community dedicated to the flower-power ideals popular at the time: free cannabis, limited government influence, no cars and no police.

After more than four decades of locking horns with authorities, they were given control over their homes when the state sold the 84-acre (24-hectare) enclave for 85.4 million kroner ($12.5 million) to a foundation owned by its inhabitants. There are nearly 700 adults and about 150 children living in the community today, and it's one of the Danish capital's biggest tourist attractions.

The "Christianites" have made several attempts to close the hashish market in the roughly 100 meter (328 foot)-long street. Police say the trade, worth millions, is controlled by the Hells Angels and the outlawed Loyal to Family.

Authorities tolerated hashish sales in Christiania until 2004, when police started to crack down. To preempt police raids, residents took down hash booths, but trading soon came back. Last year, they brought heavy machinery to tear down the market but masked men stopped them.

In the past month, Christiania has worked with local authorities to make plan that includes ending the drug trade and replacing it with other activities.

The social and housing ministry said that it was "an important prerequisite to get rid of the organized hashish trade" before Christiania can get 14.3 million kroner ($2.1 million) earmarked for the work.

A 30-year-old man who was selling drugs was shot and killed, and four others injured, in August; in 2022, a man selling hashish from one of the street's booths was shot dead. The previous year, a man was shot and killed at the entrance to the same street.

Last year, the mayor of Copenhagen urged foreigners not to buy hashish there because of the deadly shootings.

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