Police Use Pepper Spray Against Demonstrators Skip to content
palestine protest
Photo: Jelena Ćirić .

Police Use Pepper Spray Against Demonstrators

Police used pepper spray against a group of demonstrators in downtown Reykjavík today. Police contend they needed to do so in order to keep protesters from blocking ministerial vehicles and to leave the area, but some videos taken at the scene show pepper spray being used after these vehicles were already cleared, and against protesters who did not appear to be resisting.

Organised demonstration

The protest was organised in part by the Iceland-Palestine Association to take place at Skuggasund this morning, in an area where a meeting of government ministers was being held. One of the protesters, Salvör Gullbrá Þórarinsdóttir, told RÚV that about 150 protesters were in attendance.

“When the ministerial vehicles came to pick up the ministers, protesters laid down in the front of the cars as an act of protest, to delay the ministers,” she said. “They were pepper sprayed by the police.”

Orders given, orders ignored

Arnar Rúnar Marteinsson of the Capital Area Police does not dispute this version of events, telling RÚV that they had ordered the protesters to leave the area and move out of the way of vehicles.

“We had to use [the pepper spray] in order to clear the street so we wouldn’t have ministerial vehicles blocked in here,” he said. He added that they did not use clubs against the demonstrators, “so no demonstrators were injured”. That said, between 20 to 30 protesters went to hospital for treatment following being pepper sprayed.

Videos at the scene

Some of those who were present for this demonstration took photos and videos of what transpired. In some cases, protesters laying down in front of vehicles are pepper sprayed, but in other instances the pepper spraying occurs after ministerial vehicles have left, and against people who do not appear to be resisting.

The demonstrators’ demands are similar to those who were a part of yesterday’s sit-in at the Foreign Ministry: the imposition of trade sanctions against and the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel.

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