Grist's coverage of Copenhagen climate talks

Police in CopenhagenDanish police in riot gear.Photo: Courtesy Matthew McDermott via FlickrCOPENHAGEN — Snow is falling in Copenhagen this afternoon, a quiet symbol of peace in what has turned into an unlikely police state.

Sirens wale. Helicopters graze the skies. The Danish police are out in force. They patrol the city on motorcycles and bikes, in vans and tractors and boats, and on foot.  Some are dressed in full camouflage. Others are undercover. All are riot ready.

Two days ago, a concrete and steel barrier went up around our hotel, the Copenhagen Island. Now, guards at the front entrance check identification and eye everyone sideways. Sometimes they’re pleasant, other times less so.

When I approach, the sentry asks for ID. He looks at me with skepticism. I wear a dark coat and jeans and carry camera gear. Definitely not a diplomat. More like a member of the black bloc, those black coat-wearing anarchists who believe in violent action to change the system. Mostly, they ruin the fun and kill the good vibes of good-willed protesters.

Sign Up for More News from GristMore than 1,000 people have been arrested, detained and released over the course of the past week. Some were made to sit on freezing sidewalks for six hours in a nasty version of time out. The people who threw rocks and set cars on fire were rightfully detained.  But the droves who were dragged in last night for dancing awkwardly in Christiana?  Seems like overkill to me.

The police state atmosphere is starting to mess with my mind. I saw a police cruiser outside my window this morning and the sight sparked a flood of irrational thoughts.  Was I being watched? Was my phone being tapped? Might someone kidnap me as a negotiating pawn?  I wish I had a fluorescent yellow coat!

With some 72 hours left of the U.N. Climate Conference, thoughts and events are racing.  Wednesday marks a call to action.  People will march en masse to demand climate justice.  Most activists predict a peaceful protest, like last Saturday’s massive and mostly peaceful march. But some fear riots.

Will we police ourselves?  Will we get policed?

From the look of things, Copenhagen’s finest are expecting the worst.

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