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Pissed-off Copenhagen residents just destroyed the city's 'hashish supermarket'

Residents of an enclave in the Danish capital were fed up with crime in an infamous area known as “pusher street.”
Photo par Thomas Borberg/AP/POLFOTO

Copenhagen residents used crowbars, power tools, and a bulldozer to demolish an infamous open-air drug market known as "Pusher Street" on Friday following a shooting that injured two police officers and a bystander.

Fed up with crime in the area, residents of Christiania, a semi-autonomous enclave in the Danish capital, tore down the makeshift wooden stalls where hash and weed dealers have been allowed to peddle their wares with impunity for decades.

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The revolt was prompted by a shooting on Wednesday that left one police officer in critical condition and two others, including a second officer, injured. The gunman, Mesa Hodzic, a Danish national born in Bosnia, reportedly opened fire on the cops when they came to arrest him. He was later killed in a shootout with police south of Copenhagen.

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The incident was the final straw for residents of Christiania, a community of about 600 that was founded by hippies in 1971. Hashish and marijuana are illegal in Denmark, but the area quickly became known for its tolerance of drugs. Criminals eventually supplanted the friendly locals as the main suppliers, however, leading to repeated attempts to raze what Copenhagen's police chief has called the city's "hashish supermarket."

Video footage from the neighborhood on Friday showed dozens of people teaming up to topple plywood booths adorned with paintings of Bob Marley's face and other stoner iconography.

"It is important that we do this today with the wounded police officer in our thoughts," community spokesman Risenga Manghezi told the AP. "But we cannot guarantee that they won't pop up again, unfortunately."

According to Danish news site The Local, the last concerted effort to clear out "Pusher Street" is what allowed gangs to cement their control over the drug trade. Authorities tried to flatten the area in 2004, but "hardened elements then moved in to fill the vacuum and the market was soon reestablished and larger than ever."

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This time around, locals are asking Danes and tourists to help the cause by buying their weed somewhere else from now on.

"We can remove the [cannabis] stalls but we can't ensure that they don't come back. We need all of Denmark's help for that. If you support Christiania, stop buying your cannabis here," Manghezi said.

Follow Keegan Hamilton on Twitter: @keegan_hamilton