Police: Majority of Iceland’s Protestors Are Peaceful Skip to content

Police: Majority of Iceland’s Protestors Are Peaceful

Chief Constable Geir Jón Thórisson agrees with eyewitnesses to the clash between police and protestors on Wednesday night that only a few young men behaved violently and that the majority of protestors were peaceful, many of whom tried to protect the police.

“Very young people, children even, come here […] to throw things at the police, although there are also older people in their midst,” Thórisson told Fréttabladid.

From the protests outside parliament on November 8, 2008. Chief Constable Geir Jón Thórisson is to the left. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Many protestors have expressed their disapproval of such violent behavior. “And they have walked up to those who are throwing things at police officers and asked them not to because it is not in the spirit of the demonstration,” Thórisson described.

According to Chief of Police Stefán Eiríksson, some of those who were the most prominent in the group of rioters are individuals police are familiar with, who have been arrested for assault on earlier occasion.

On Wednesday night, two police officers were seriously injured when they were hit with flagstones. One of them suffered a harsh blow to the head and was knocked unconscious. Jónas Sen, a physician at the emergency room of the Landspítali hospital, said the helmet the officer had been wearing probably saved his life.

After the incident, police resorted to teargas, which angered many peaceful protestors. Thórisson does not deny that the move caused more people to turn violent. “But it is the only resource we have to try and make people pull back.”

In the same night in front of the government offices, where a short-handed team of riot police were trying to protect the building while being stoned, a group of protestors formed a line in front of the officers to protect them. The stoning stopped as a result.

Yesterday, some protestors were spotted bringing coffee and flowers to police officers during another loud, but peaceful, demonstration outside the Althingi parliament building.

Click here to read more about the teargas incident on Wednesday night.

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