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Disrupting parliament with noise

Today I headed down to Austurvöllur where there was a demonstration called at 1.30 pm.

The idea was to disrupt the first session of parliament since the Christmas recess, which began at the same time. People showed up with noisemakers, pots, pans, drums, honked car horns – you name it, anything that made noise.

I didn’t stay very long, but while I was there, at least, everything was peaceful. However, shortly afterwards things heated up and apparently police used tear gas to dissipate protesters who had gathered in the yard behind the parliament building. A few people have been arrested.

There are some pics here.

I managed to take a couple of videos on my little pocket camera – the first one a short distance from the scene …

The second right in the thick of things, in front of the entrance to the parliament building …

I’ll never win an Oscar, but it will give an idea of the noise. Almost as exciting as Obama’s inauguration! [Almost.]

UPDATE: Here’s a video from mbl.is – it’s in Icelandic, but the images speak for themselves.

IT’S A GREAT DAY FOR A PROTEST
Calm, mild, currently 1°C [34F]. Sunrise was at 10:42 am, sunset 4:36 pm.

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  • Andrew January 20, 2009, 4:40 pm

    How many people do you think were there?

  • Sigga January 20, 2009, 7:14 pm

    I just watched it on the news – amazing, especially amazing was the reaction of Sturla Böðvars… we will not let the protestors affect the normal daily work of alþingi – (“we will ignore them – like we ignored the impending crisis… and hope the police manage to move them away – Bjarni can´t we use some gas on them???”) This is just going to get worse isn´t it…

  • James January 20, 2009, 7:18 pm

    From this video, it looks like it developed into a right scuffle (I wonder what the policeman trying to do to the protestor’s face at 0:58…):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScBQS4Yzi0A

  • Sigga January 20, 2009, 7:31 pm

    Ofcourse I meant Björn not Bjarni….. major dickmo of church and judgemental affairs.

  • alda January 20, 2009, 7:43 pm

    Andrew – hard to say, because people came and went, but probably around 2,000 at the most numerous time.

    The protest started at 1.30 and is still going on at 7.30 pm. People have lit a fire in front of the building now.

  • Aline January 20, 2009, 8:03 pm

    I was there for 3 hours until I felt completely frozen. I was amazed how many people went there and happy to see such a reaction from people! Jæja!!!

  • Pauline McCarthy January 20, 2009, 8:40 pm

    I was there with my 11 year old son. The one who was arrested or “kidnapped” by the police. I went there with a friend and my son. I have rheumatoid arthritis (leiðagigt) and osteoarthritis (slítgigt) and fibromyalgia (vevjagigt). I could not stand for very long so found a seat in the Parliament garden. I had a red rattle with the siminn sign on it. I just sat there and kept an eye on my son. I told him he could go about banging his cake tin but if there was any trouble he should run to me at the bench.

    After about an hour and a half the police decided to move everybody back. When they got to me on the bench I told them that my legs were too painful to walk and I felt safer on the bench. One policeman dragged me off the bench and I ended up on the ground shouting for help. He just walked away. Eventually a policewoman came and helped me back onto the bench.

    Bye this time I was in tears. A police photographer came and asked me if I was ok, he was very supportive and kept telling the other 7 or 8 policemen who tried to move me on, every 10 mins or so, that I was disabled and also that I could not understand Icelandic much.
    All the while I was keeping an eye on my son. Between the line of police and the building there was only he and I and from where I was sitting it looked like some people lying on the ground behind him. Later on I discovered that they were a group who had been arrested and had their hands tied and sat on the ground.
    My son was just standing by the fence just watching the crowd. I saw a group of policemen and women come up to him and talk to him. He pointed at me and I waved him over but they did not bring him to me, the took him to the police station were they striped him to the waist!!! This I found out later as at the time I just thought that they were taking him over to the church or behind the crowd. Not a single one of them came to speak to me. They did not phone me although he gave them my name and number.

    My friend was called by his sister and told that she had seen my son being taken away by the police live on the tv. Ras 1.

    By this time it was about 4pm and I was almost in a state of shock with pain, as I had forgotten to bring my medicine with me and was frozen to the bone.

    So to be honest I was quite relieved when the chief policeman said that now I HAD to leave and they would carry me out. It was clear that the police had decided to make an attack on the crowd, as no other changes had taken place.

    A policewoman and a policeman helped me out of the garden to an ambulance man who carted me away on a trolley. About the same time I met my friend and he told me that my son had been arrested. I asked the ambulance man if he could find out where my son was and he told us that he had been taken to the police station in Hverfisgata.

    My friend drove me to the police station and because I was in so much pain and difficulty to walk he went in to pick up my son. He was told that I would be reported to the social services child department (barnanefnd).

    Later I phoned Rás 1. and told them the story of how the police had taken my son away and not brought him to me. The person who interviewed me on the phone sounded concerned and shocked but she was not in charge of what was reported. As far as my little Icelandic could understand on the news they said that the police took him away to protect him from stone throwers. I never saw a single stone being thrown. Plenty of snowballs though and a few eggs at one time.

    At one point a snowball landed by the feet of two policemen, It was blackened with some dirt in it. I watched their body language and I could see that they were trying to find out if there were stones in it, but the kicked it away when the discovered that it was just dirty snow.

    From my perch I saw another police officer threatening a man with pepper spray just because he was banging a pot in front of him.

    I saw a lot today, too much to write here. I thank you for the opportunity to write in my native English. I feel so cut off from society not being able to speak or understand Icelandic properly. Many people say I should be ashamed to have lived in Iceland for 16 years and still not have a grip on the language. I tell you, if they were in constant pain they would find it very difficult to learn anything never mind another language.

    Iceland is a wonderful country and I wish to continue living here with my 2 sons.

    LoVe Pauline McCarthy, Akranes

  • Ljósmynd DE January 20, 2009, 9:10 pm

    It is encouraging to see and hear that the protests are on the upswing again and people haven’t yielded to the ignorance and the arrogance of the government. I think, it is quite understandable to meet the decision makers at the very place, where they should feel oliged to vote in favor of new elections instead of ridiculing and ignoring the protesters. In Germany there is a no-protest zone around the parliament but we have bad experiences, very different from the current situation in Iceland.

    I wonder how this failed government finds the impudence to cling to the power for so long. Do they fear prosecution or do they need the time to cover their tracks or is just accountability not an option in Iceland?

  • RK in Los Angeles January 20, 2009, 9:50 pm

    I just tried to explain to my boyfriend what is going on in Iceland today, and the first thing he said was “why the f*** was parliament on Christmas recess for 3 weeks when the whole country is going bankrupt??!!

    That alone shows the complete impotence of the people in charge.

    I’m so proud of the people that went to the demonstrations today (and tonight!) For all those anti-protesters nagging over skyr and egg cleaning, I have to say that it takes courage to put yourself out there knowing that you will most likely be gassed. I recently heard someone ask if protesting is really good way to create jobs, and I say well yeah for the cleaning crews it is! I think Icelanders are finally waking up and responding appropriately to what just happened to us. We are finally holding those accountable that should be called to question.

    You’re right Alda – it is a really exciting day here in the USofA but its also exciting to see people come together on Austurvollur to demand change. Made the day even better for me. There were pretty scary demonstrations here in Los Angeles over Iraq about 5 years ago. Most of them were hushed down in the media even when hundreds of thousands of people were gathered and whole neighborhoods shut down for an entire day. I was there, I saw it. It was scary but we did it. Today is very different here. I think (hope, believe) that things will change back home as well.

  • alda January 20, 2009, 9:56 pm

    Pauline – thanks for sharing. Indeed, your son got a fair bit of focus on the news and it was made out as though he was alone and “where were his parents!” – Well, now we know. Best of luck to you!

    LDE – from what we saw on the news, parliament was up in arms today, with the opposition screaming bloody murder. So there is dissent within those walls, too.

  • alda January 20, 2009, 9:58 pm

    RK – I think we’re just seeing the start of the protests. There is more to come.

  • Fríða January 21, 2009, 1:42 am

    I think the parlament should be VERY ashamed of them selfs. this is not a 3 weeks christmas recess, because it’s already three weeks since the new year ! so make that more like 5 weeks.

    sitting in there, for the first time in weeks, the country going bankrupt, they were talking about….. allowing to sell beers and wine in grocery stores. because THAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE in Iceland right now.
    props to a Framsóknar woman named Eygló, for litterally turning around during her speach and shouting at prime minister Geir to listen to the nation, resign.

    demo is still ongoing. for over 12 hours now. this is Icelandic history. and this is not the end of it.

  • ruby January 21, 2009, 9:31 am

    Dear Pauline, I did see tryggvi…but was unabe to to see you anywhere around,,,am in shock to read…feel awful should have been by yourside….pleaase do let me know as to how I can be of anyassisantce to help you in this matter,,,it is obviouse that the police force does not know the right technique in approaching this matter ,they are treating this matter as if …everyone is a terrosist

  • alda January 21, 2009, 10:34 am

    Frída – totally agree with you, except on one point: it was Helga Sigrún Harðardóttir who shouted at Geir. 🙂

  • Vikingisson January 21, 2009, 3:24 pm

    On the one hand I’m happy to see the new vigor. A sensible escalation. If this doesn’t work then step it up a little more. But I’m amazed that the freaks inside are still not answering to the people that put them there.

    It seems that they are stalling as long as they can so they can bleed off as money of the fresh loan money as they can. The same old game but this time they will not only bankrupt the country they will take it back to the stone age.

    Get them off the stalling game of blame. Each day they wait it is another pile of money leaving. I’m convinced they are continuing to steal it all while they can.

  • Pauline McCarthy January 21, 2009, 8:35 pm

    Hi all, just to set the record straight about 11 year old Patrick and his arrest and doings with the police. We have engaged a lawyer to help fight a wrongful arrest. He is requesting that I get as much detail from Patrick as possible. In the course of doing that I discovered that he had not been stripped to the waist but only told to take off his jacket and tracksuit top. He was left with his T-shirt which just happened to be a Police T-shirt 🙂
    LoVe Pauline

    RUBY, great to hear from you. I am sure you would have enjoyed sitting next to me on the bench ( as your legs are worse than mine), I would have enjoyed the company and support. Hey! What a great idea! Why don’t we round up all the disabled people we know and hold a protest there in our wheelchairs and walking sticks and other physical aids. Would the police dare to push us down with their battering rams?

    Some people have told me that I was irresponsible taking an 11 year old child to the protest. Here is what Patrick replied to that “If everybody brought their children with them to the protest the Police would not gas us (500 children) or beat us up, they would have to behave!” Out of the mouth of babes!

    Oh Crikey! The post man just came with Patrick’s Christmas present from his Aunty in Scotland. They are wanting me to pay kr.9.286 just to receive it! The time when I wrote this was 6.20pm.

    Then I just got a call from the school. My husband was attending a meeting at the school with our eldest son 15 years. He is going to take one of those robot babies home this coming weekend. Tryggvi had fallen unconscious and the ambulance was on its way to pick him up at the school.

    It is not a heart attack and not a stroke but they are keeping him in the hospital overnight to observe him and the specialist will look at him in the morning. He had been complaining of a real bad headache all day.

    Tryggvi was lying there woozy and gray as ash saying “I am not staying in the hospital. I am going to the protest tomorrow!”.

    It is about 8.30pm and the boys and I just got home from the hospital. We left Tryggvi watching the live interview of the Prime Minister. Hopefully we can all get an early night.

    Thanks for giving me a platform to vent!

    LoVe Pauline
    pauline@mi.is