According to the now disclosed Police report on Protests 2008-2010
During the massive demonstrations in January 2009, that led to the resignation of the Independent Party and Social Democratic Alliance coalition government, police finished their stock of pepper-spray, heavily employed against protesters. They were out of pepper-spray by January 21st, as is verified in the recently disclosed internal report on police organization and activities during over 160 protest gatherings from 2008 to 2010.
When the police had thus been disarmed, it used teargas as its last resort to break up demonstrations outside Alþingi. This happened on January 21st. It marked the first time police had used teargas against demonstrators, since 1949, when people protested against Iceland’s then looming membership in NATO. After the teargas employment this time, however, protests continued, moving on to other administrative buildings. Among the protesters some, reportedly, hurled rocks at the officers on duty. When the police was no longer equipped to defend itself, members of the public took charge, as described by an officer in the report:
“The remarkable event that took place was, however, that a large group of protesters by the House of Government stepped out of the group and created a line of defence in front of the police line, and thereby stopped the rock-throwing. This surprised everyone and you could say that this was a world-event, since it is not known that any foreign police force has ever experienced anything like it, in relation to protests like these.”
Visir has reported that at least some of the rocks thrown at Althingi during the previous day came, according to the report, from an archeological site close by, originating as a stone wall in a settler’s house, possibly that of Iceland’s first Nordic settler, Ingólfur Arnarson.