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Copenhagen Closeups: 100,000 take to the Streets

Blog Archive | December 14, 2009 | By Brian Beauchamp

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A church in downtown Copenhagen hangs a banner calling for climate justice. Many people go in and out offering prayers for a fair, ambitious, and binding deal among nations at the COP15.

More than 100,000 people took place in yesterday’s massive demonstration and march from downtown Copenhagen’s Parliament Square to the Bella Center on the outskirts of town.  While people were generally friendly and helpful towards one another, most of the mainstream media reported only the relative handful of arrests that were made, but I for one was not witness to any misconduct, violence, or unrest.

Rather, people were out in the chilly weather, dressed in parkas and warm sweaters as temperatures hovered just above freezing, mostly taking good care of one another and being careful not to push and shove.

The event that had been planned for weeks kicked off with one announcement from the main-stage, following DJ’s and music as people gathered, “When we began planning this march a few weeks ago we knew we would get 10,000 people to show up, we hoped for 20,000 people, and we were just notified by the police that there are 100,000 of you here with us today ready to march for a fair, binding, and ambitions climate deal among all of our nations!”

The announcement was met with a roaring cheer as drummers began to lead the 4 km march out of town to the Bella Center, where the climate negotiations are taking place.

The steady parade included blocks of people from organizations such as 350.org, Greenpeace, Youngos, World Wildlife Fund, and many others.  A group of indigenous peoples from the first nations around the world took the lead as followers stretched on for blocks.

While security was very tight all over the town, police allowed the march to go on mostly unimpeded.  Overall, the event was very well organized and participants were allowed to take to the streets freely.  As had been predicted a band of radical extremists took things too far and were quickly cordoned off  from the rest of the crowd, allowing marchers to carry on peacefully.

As the crowd finally arrived at the Bella Center, an outdoor stage greeted them with live music, speakers, and a candlelit vigil calling out to world leaders and heads of state who meet inside the sprawling complex this week to sign a fair, ambitious, and binding climate deal while here in Copenhagen at the COP15.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on the crowd to keep the movement alive and keep working to make a better world.

While all of this was happening people in Copenhagen, candlelight vigils were also taking place all over the world as part of 350.org’s weekend of action during the climate summit.  Organizers here at the COP15 will be working to ensure the photos sent in are seen by delegates as they some in for their negotiations, which resume tomorrow.

And many people got creative, including Leila Durrie, a three year old from Ann Arbor, Michigan who shows her knack for the ukulele and a keen understanding of why her future is dependant on what happens in Copenhagen this week.  This you-tube video ranks high in the cute ratings and is a must see as a reminder of what’s at stake as we enter the second week of climate talks:


And the stakes are getting higher.  Heads of state begin to arrive here on Tuesday.  They will be reminded of yesterday’s march and the millions of people around the world who are demanding a fair, ambitious, and binding agreement.


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