Copenhagen Diary: It’s Easy To Beat Down A Few Thousand People

The Wonk Room is blogging and tweeting live from Copenhagen.

Today’s session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, was marred by a vicious and blatantly extra-legal crackdown by authorities on non-violent protesters, activists, and civil society leaders. Demonstrators were pre-emptively detained and held in cages without being charged. Police beat non-violent marchers with batons and pepper-sprayed them in the eyes. The United Nations preemptively revoked the credentials of the entire delegations of Friends of the Earth International and Avaaz.org.

It only took a few thousand police and soldiers, some vans, guard dogs, and fencing, some sticks and sprays to put down the attempts by thousands of people to call for a real deal and respect the rights of those among us most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change. Of course, the authorities did have the challenge of protecting the world’s leaders from unpredictable rabble, and these talks need to continue. The governments of the world genuinely understand the dynamics of crowd control.

But I’ve never seen a hurricane, a drought, a flood, or an ocean that can be stopped by riot police and identification cards.