Almost 500 people protested the interest rate of foreign currency loans outside the Central Bank of Iceland yesterday. Police, who were concerned protestors would start a fire at the bank’s entrance, are said to have taken harsh actions.
From the protests outside the parliament in January 2009 when protesters started a fire. Police officers were worried history would repeat itself. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“The reason that we intervened is that people had carried wooden pallets to the door which has often been used as food for fire in such protests,” Arnar Rúnar Marteinsson, chief inspector at the Capital Region Police, told Morgunbladid.
Marteinsson led the police’s actions in the protests outside the Central Bank of Iceland yesterday. “Then someone brought a wooden fence and plastic cones and we saw that some sort of fluid was splashed over it. At that point we felt compelled to intervene.”
The police safeguarded the door asked people to back away from the bank’s entrance. Four of those standing close to the door refused to comply with the police’s orders and one person was arrested.
According to protestors, police officers were impatient and harsh in their treatment of the people who had gathered outside the Central Bank.
Singer-songwriter Ellen Kristjánsdóttir, who participated in the protests, said a police officer had twisted her hand, bruising it so that she had to seek medical attention at the emergency room afterwards.
However, Marteinsson stated the police’s actions at the protests yesterday were justifiable and by the book.
Kristjánsdóttir said she doesn’t understand what Minister of Economic Affairs Gylfi Magnússon is thinking in regard to the foreign currency loans.
She is baffled by how quickly the government was in taking the cause of the banks after not having done anything for the public for months. “It encourages you to demand justice,” Kristjánsdóttir said.
Click here to read more about yesterday’s protests.