My father's right; tear gas is nasty.
I'm not sure where he discovered that, Rhodesia perhaps, but I got my first taste of the stuff today at Christiania when the riot police invaded.
Apparently it happens all the time. At first I thought it was a football match, what with the cheering and shouting, then I thought it was a fight and stuck my head out the workshop door, straight into a line of armored police making an ill-conceived dash for Pusher Street.
Well, not 'straight into' as such, they were about twenty meters away receiving a barrage of rocks and bottles, but it was close enough to scare the bejeezus out of me.
They fell back, letting off a round of the gas as a literal parting shot, and I went out to see what the hell was going on. I've only been at Christiania a week now, came here figuring there might've been some workshop space available, and this was all a bit unexpected. I mean, go to a climate camp and you expect this kind of thing, but this is a village. People live here.
That's when I got a face full of gas. It's not like rubbing your eyes after cutting chillies, somehow it's worse. It makes your body want to run away.
The canister was still pissing white stuff about thirty meters upwind and generally being a bit of a public health hazard. I darted back to the workshop, grabbed a respirator and some eye protection (great things, workshops) and wetted a towel with the plan of smothering the bastard. But by the time I got back someone had already taken care of the situation. Things were already swiftly returning to normal.
I asked a dodgy looking guy next to me with either a tiny pipe bomb or a very large firecracker tucked ignominiously up one sleeve what it was all about. He said it happens all the time, and was of the strong opinion that it shouldn't. By coincidence he turned out to be the same guy who had earlier told me I wasn't allowed to sit where I'd been on the main road, Pusher Street, eating a falafel and, coincidentally again, just at that moment thinking how nice it was to be able to sit and eat a falafel without somebody moving you on.
I'd asked him why, he said 'Because'. I went. You don't mess with the drug dealers in Christiania. It's easy to avoid them, but they're dangerous people.
Within ten minutes it was like nothing had happened, and I went back to work.