Almost 500 protestors assembled outside the police station on Hverfisgata in Reykjavík on Saturday, following the organized demonstrations on Austurvöllur parliamentary square, to demand that their fellow demonstrator, who had been arrested the previous day, be set free.
Some protestors broke into the police station to free their companion. Police resorted to pepper spray to keep the situation under control, Fréttabladid reports.
The demonstrator in question, Haukur Hilmarsson, had two weeks earlier raised a flag with the emblem of supermarket chain Bónus on the roof of the Althingi parliamentary building. He was set free around 6 pm on Saturday.
“I didn’t want people to get hurt by rescuing some punk. I’d rather they use this energy to bring the government to their knees,” Hilmarsson said. “Launch a complete and general and immediate revolution.”
Hilmarsson was arrested on Friday night because of a fine he had failed to pay. Hilmarsson was fined for participating in demonstrations outside the aluminum smelter in Reydarfjördur, east Iceland, in 2006.
Stefán Eiríksson, chief of the Capital Region Police, denied that Hilmarsson’s arrest had anything to do with the organized protests on Austurvöllur on Saturday.
“I think the police went too far,” said MP for the Left-Greens Álfheidur Ingadóttir. “It is absolutely unacceptable that people are grounded for protesting like police did in the case of this young man.”
“I therefore understand the anger of people completely. His companions are outraged by such measures,” Ingadóttir added. “To arrest the man the day before the demonstrations like this feels like revenge. It is also provocation and such methods only encourage people’s anger.”