A protester facing conviction in court for standing on the sidewalk in front of the US embassy has been getting support from other activist groups in Reykjavík, who have followed his example.
Lárus Páll Birgisson has been a perennial figure to many US embassy employees, as he would often stand in front of the building protesting what he believes is America’s overly militaristic foreign policy. Last December, he and a group of about ten others were holding a demonstration in front of the embassy when police asked them to leave. Lárus refused.
“The police here want us to leave,” Lárus told Vísir in part. “I have repeatedly asked on what legal grounds we can be told to vacate the area and have not received any answer.” Lárus has himself been arrested three times for refusing to leave the area in front of the US embassy, and was on the last occasion charged with disobeying a police command. Lárus has contended that the sidewalk on which he stands belongs to the city of Reykjavík and is therefore public property.
As the state is still pursuing having Lárus convicted, other activist groups have stepped in to show support.
In a statement to the press, the Campaign Against Militarism said that the protest they held on the exact same portion of sidewalk last Monday resulted in no arrests and no charges filed against them by police. This, they contend, “underscores the ridiculousness of the case being made against Lárus, and smacks of persecution.” The Association Iceland-Palestine also plans to hold a protest on the same spot tomorrow.
Lárus has described his actions as being less about protesting and more about paying a courtesy call.
“It’s just a polite suggestion that there exist other ways of achieving political goals than using violence and militarism,” Lárus said last December.