Last Stand or Renewed Urban Activism? The Copenhagen Youth House Uprising, 2007

  • Anders Lund Hansen
  • René Karpantschof
Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology book series (PSEPS)


In the annual Freedom House report on the status of democracy around the world, Denmark, as usual, scored a clean 1.0, the highest possible rating for the year 2007. However, the Freedom House also noted ‘during the year, the demolition of a youth center in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro district sparked a series of riots leading to hundreds of arrests’ (Freedom House, 2008). The center was the so-called Youth House that since 1982 had been an important free space for the autonomous squatter movement and other alternative milieus in the city. In the early morning of 1 March 2007 the Youth House was besieged by a large police force, including helicopter-borne elite units that landed on the rooftop of the squatted and well-barricaded building. After 57 minutes of fighting from floor to floor, the last of the 36 defenders of the Youth House succumbed to water-cannon jets, exploding teargas grenades, and the increasing number of elite units who flocked into the building through bulldozer-made holes in the outer walls. Soon, numerous Youth House followers, alarmed by the breaking news-casts from all the important Danish TV stations, began to gather and build barricades in the streets throughout the district. When the rioting ebbed three days later, thousands of outraged people had taken part in protests, the burning of scores of cars, and clashes with the nationwide police force that had resorted to repeated rounds of teargas, more than 800 arrests, and even a temporary curfew. This was, in the words of the Ritzau news agency,’ some of the worst unrest in Copenhagen ever’. As a consequence, the March 2007 events in Copenhagen can be seen as a temporary form of urban uprising. For a short while, the unrest challenged the prevailing social order, suggesting, ‘there is something political in the city air struggling to be expressed’ (Harvey, 2012, p. 117).


City Council Urban Space Urban Renewal Creative Class Urban Governance 
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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anders Lund Hansen
    • 1
  • René Karpantschof
    • 2
  1. 1.Lund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.University of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark

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