Woman Who Set IKEA Christmas Goat on Fire Regrets Nothing

IKEA Goat Stöð 2

“I maybe wouldn’t do it again. But I wouldn’t take it back either,” the woman who set the infamous IKEA Christmas goat on fire in 2016 told Stöð 2 in an exclusive TV interview. In November 2016, she and two others committed arson by burning down the infamous Christmas monument with the help of a generous dousing of gasoline. Each member of the trio was fined ISK 150,000 [$1,080, €1,025].

The Christmas Goat is based on traditional, albeit much smaller, straw Yule Goat figurines, and originated in Gävle, Sweden in 1966. The IKEA Christmas goat has been a popular target for firebugs in recent years and has been burned down by arsonists three times (in 2010, 2012, and 2016). It seemingly self-immolated in 2015, when it caught fire due to an electrical malfunction. But even in years when it hasn’t burned down, the Christmas Goat hasn’t fared much better: harsh winter winds have knocked it over on more than one occasion.

With her identity and voice disguised, the 2016 arsonist described a “certain adrenaline rush” brought on by the illegal endeavour. Asked why she decided to do it, she responded: “That’s a good question. I think the main reason was that it was really funny.”

Rainbow Flag Defaced on Reykjavík’s Skólavörðustígur

Skólavörðustígur rainbow flag

In an act of vandalism, the rainbow flag adorning the Skólavörðustígur street in Reykjavík was defaced with white paint early Sunday morning. A resident of Skólavörðustígur told RÚV that he was saddened by the act.

Saddened by the sight

The Reykjavík police received a report of the incident early Sunday after resident Óttarr Makuch discovered the damage around 8 AM. “I woke up, poured some coffee, and saw our beautiful rainbow defaced,” Óttarr told RÚV. “This must have been done between 6 and 7 this morning. From now on, I’m going to wake up at 6!”

The rainbow painted on the street had been splashed with white paint; the derogatory phrase “LGBT LOSER” marred the symbol of inclusivity. Óttarr urged the community not to dwell on the incident. “The colours are much brighter than the vandalism, so the joy really shines through. But the individual responsible clearly needs help.”

Óttarr added that he had heard tourists outside his house passing through Skólavörðustígur, many of whom were surprised by the incident. “They are surprised that there are such acts of vandalism on a rainbow in Iceland, where everything is supposed to be so peaceful and great.”

City of Reykjavík employees arrived at Skólavörðustígur Sunday morning to begin cleaning, according to Óttarr. “Örn with the City of Reykjavík is going to clean up this mess and make our rainbow beautiful again.”

The white paint has since been removed.

Homemade Bomb Used in North Iceland Tunnel Explosion

Fjallabyggð Ólafsfjörður

Police continue to investigate an incident involving a homemade bomb set off in Ólafsfjarðargöng tunnel, North Iceland, in March, RÚV reports. The bomb was the largest of its kind that has been used in Iceland for the purpose of causing damage. The act of vandalism could be punished by up to six years in prison.

The one-lane Ólafsfjarðargöng tunnel, also known as Múlagöng, connects Dalvík and Ólafsfjörður in North Iceland. It opened on March 1991, making it one of Iceland’s oldest tunnels. The bomb exploded in an alcove of the tunnel around noon on March 18. Though the damage has been cleaned up, traces of the explosion remain.

Four Arrested

Four people between 30-50 years of age were arrested in connection with the crime in Northeast and Southwest Iceland. All were released from custody after being questioned. Bergur Jónsson, Police Superintendent in the Northeast Region told reporters that the investigation is going well. Authorities are now determining each suspect’s role in the event, in part using data from mobile phones. Iceland’s Penal Code allows for sentencing of up to six years in prison for anyone who compromises the safety of transport vehicles or traffic on public roads.

“We are still determining how powerful it was, but we know that this is the largest IED [improvised explosive device] that has been used for this purpose in this country,” Bergur stated.

Repairs Begin on Church of Akureyri

Akureyri Iceland

Repairs are finally underway on the Church of Akureyri following vandalism to the building facade two and a half years ago. RÚV reports that repairs are expected to cost over ISK 20 million ($163,863/€147,366).

Residents in the North Iceland town of Akureyri woke one morning in January 2017 to find that four churches had been defaced with hateful slogans and symbols. While it wasn’t difficult for the graffiti to be painted over at three of the churches, the stone cladding of the Church of Akureyri absorbed the paint, making it impossible to effectively cover the damage without major repairs. The church is a major local landmark, having been designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, the same architect who designed Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík. As such, its exterior has protected status, making it both complicated and time-consuming to locate the right materials to repair it. Church leaders are now waiting for 14.5 tons of special stone cladding to be delivered so that they can begin repairs in earnest.

“The material is coming, in part, from Norway,” says Gestur Jónsson, the treasurer of the Church of Akureyri council. The council will receive feldspar and obsidian from abroad, but still needs to source Iceland spar as well, in order to match the blend of stones that was originally used in the siding. Once the church acquires the proper mix of stone, master masons will remove the vandalised siding from the church walls and replace it with the new.

The expense of replacing the stone siding will not be funded using parishioners’ congregation taxes. So far, the Church of Akureyri has received ISK 9.5 million ($77,907/69,887) to fund repairs, which will cover repairs to half of the church, including the towers and the southern side. The council’s plan is to continue raising funds and be able to finish repairs to the northern side of the church next summer, thereby avoiding any major visible differences to the texture of the stone.

Environment Agency Reports Vandalism to Police

vandalism on Helgafell

The Environment Agency of Iceland has reported recent vandalism of Helgafell to the police. “Individuals’ names and identifying characteristics have been scrawled into the soft rock and it is evident that some of the damage has been made very recently, even in the last few days,” reads a press release from the Agency.

https://www.facebook.com/maria.eliasdottir/posts/10217429112191662

Helgafell is a flat-topped mesa above the town of Hafnarfjörður and a popular hiking destination in the Reykjavík capital area. The mesa consists of palagonite, a soft rock that is easy to carve into. Recently, graffiti has proliferated at the site, some of which includes individuals’ first names as well as explicit images.

“These types of inscriptions are a clear violation of nature conservation laws and hugely disrespectful toward the country’s natural environment, as the violations leave behind damage that can take the wind and weather tens or even hundreds of years to wipe out.” The press release adds that the Agency is doing what it can to repair the damage.

“Damaging nature is a criminal offense, and we encourage travellers to stay vigilant and report violations,” the press release reads. “Help keep our nature unspoiled. If there is no guest book on the mountain peak that you topped, please refrain from writing your name.”

The penalties for such vandalism can include large fines and even prison time, but it may prove difficult to find those responsible.

‘Women’s School’ Vandalised With Misogynistic Graffiti

The premises of Kvennaskólinn, or Kvennó as it’s colloquially known, were vandalized with hateful graffiti last night Vísir reports. “There’s a great deal of misogyny in these messages,” remarked principal Hjalti Jón Sveinsson, “and we’re concerned about this kind of thinking.”

The graffiti was spray painted on the school building and grounds and included phrases such as “Fuck You!” og “Kvennó Lessur,” or “Kvennó Lesbos.”

Kvennaskólinn translates as “The Women’s School,” and was founded as the first secondary school for women in Iceland in 1874. The school was women-only for just over a century, but the first male student being admitted in 1977. Women still make up the majority of the students, but the male population has steadily increased over the years and now stands at 38%.

Hjalti Jón said it’s possible that there’s some sort of secondary school humor behind the messages that he doesn’t understand. However, while there have been various acts of vandalism on the school grounds before, he says there’s never been anything quite like this. “I’d come to work in the morning maybe and someone would have egged or spray-painted the school.”

Hjalti Jón said that the vandalism would be painted over as soon as possible and also that he’d be checking the security camera footage to try and determine who was on the grounds last night. The school is still considering whether or not to refer the matter to the police. Typically in cases like this, Hjalti would just contact the principals of other nearby secondary schools and together, they’d address this kind misogynistic and homophobic thinking directly with their students.

“They were really shocked,” said Hjalti when asked about the students’ reaction to the vandalism. “They found it really humiliating—this is just so far from their way of thinking. They’re hurt and angry.”

 

East Side Pranksters Give Cannabis the Green Light

Pranksters on the east side of Reykjavík gave marijuana the green light on Thursday, placing a cannabis leaf-shaped stencil atop the green traffic light at the intersection of Langholtsvegur and Álfheimar, RÚVreports. Páll Sigurðsson, an electrical engineer in the city’s traffic light service department, was unamused by the prank, but said that vandalism of traffic lights is uncommon in Reykjavík, as most people realize that the signals are important safety devices.

Although the stencil does cover some of the green light, it does not appear to impede drivers’ ability to recognize the signal at this time. Páll says that the city’s response will be simple: “We remove something like this immediately, regardless of what the image is. It’s very rare that something like this comes up, and this is definitely an exception to the rule.”

Páll went on to say that traffic lights should be respected and not subjected to such vandalism, for safety reasons. “This is naturally a safety issue. It’s just common sense not to mess around with them and most have sense enough not to.”

Traffic light stencils have been to put to similar, albeit state-approved use elsewhere in Iceland. The northern town of Akureyri installed red hearts in their traffic lights in 2008, “as a consequence of the finance crash…when there was a need for some positive thinking and to put emphasis on what really matters.”