During a minute of silence, one could literally hear a pin drop, another musical interlude was provided by the audience's loud, heartfelt rendition of the traditional Danish freedom fighters' song "Never walk in fear".
In the two days prior to the event BF activists succeeded in gathering 252 pairs of men's and women's shoes, dramatically lined up on the sunburned city garden lawn, to remind all present that 252 is not only a statistic, but that each represents a real human being who died, mostly alone. Every year we lose far too many relatively young friends to what are, for the most part, preventable, overdoses.
A large coloured mixed flower wreath with a wide orange silk ribbon marked with BrugerForeningen and LFHN (the parent's organisation in BF) - and several fresh flower bunches placed right next to the granite engraved memorial text: "Here we commemorate deceased drug users" was flanked by two flaming torches.
A remembrance wreath was placed next to the engraved memorial:
"Here we commemorate deceased drug users".
BF's usual speaker's rostrum - a 1.3 metre high glass quadrant container topped with a round wooden table - containing 2.500 bloody syringes and needles, several empty methadone bottles and a mixture of colourful sandbox toys- was a constant reminder of the reality that the hard pressed citizens in the local district right next to the open drug scene, face daily in their own yards and other surroundings. The rostrum is an illuminating tool as we use it every time we have a chance in the ongoing debate about user rooms.
This year BF bought a little 50 cc 220 Volts 650 watt generator. Last year it annoyed us greatly that we were delayed and that eventually we had to move the rostrum out of focus, just because our 50 metres of electrical cable, fell just 1½ meter too short, to reach the friendly home on the second floor where we succeeded in borrowing the needed 220 volt electricity, needed to drive our microphones, the amplifier, loudspeakers and video gear. Now we can place the speakers stand exactly where it needs to be, and we don't need to beg anyone to lend us electricity, which really can be a hassle here in the middle of the summer holiday and a Friday evening when only very few people are home.
Since its planting back at IDUD in 2003 with assistance from user activists from 16 different nations, The Paradise Apple tree had been stripped of its beautiful flowers by vandals. So now it does not really look much like a real tree anymore. Therefore, we have decided to replace it with a red Beechwood tree, which, as well as being beautiful is a Fast Grower. Gardeners have advised us to wait until later in the autumn, a better season to plant trees. We now expect to do it on or around BF's 13th Anniversary on 3rd of November.
While our resident singer was on the finale of the second rendition of his song, the Police drove by in a large van and abruptly stopped on the street beside the park, four large cops ran up and forced their way up to the front line, where they approached an apparently drunk guy who was drowsing next to the flowers. They swiftly grabbed him and dragged him back to the van - where they body searched him. It was later discovered that they had an alarm from a citizen who had, sometime earlier, seen him handling a pistol around the corner from the memorial ceremony in the Central Station. The allegation was true, the guy really was carrying a toy plastic pistol- so he was quickly arrested and driven away. When this incident started and the cops came running I thought that they were annoyed because we were using our electrical amplifier to boost the sound of the acoustic guitar. As such, I grabbed the written meeting permit issued by the local Police station, so I was ready to explain that what we were doing was legal, but I didn't manage to approach them before they went off with the guy. Incidentally while they were finishing searching the guy and beginning to drive off with the guy and the toy pistol, we had reached the point of the program, where we had to sing the freedom song "Never walk in fear". I couldn't resist commenting on the peculiarity of the whole funny and strange coincidence.
In a Reuter's article published in several of Friday's newspapers, complaining that the Police are not yet able to provide us with a realistic figure for overdose deaths in 2005. In this 'information age' it shouldn't be necessary to wait more than 8 months before we can get a realistic figure of the current situation. Actually it should be possible to follow the overdoses month by month, so we could act on the situation especially if it worsens. In "older days" just back in the mid-1990s we got the statistics from the previous year from the Police in late February or certainly by March. But that was also while we still had politicians, who cared and were interested in whether the numbers went up or down. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case anymore, and we must realize that - as long as no politicians really care to ask about the overdose statistics, we won't get the figures any earlier. Therefore, I promised that I will make it my business, and I'll work hard to make the politicians change their priorities so that this issue returns to the discussion table. Hopefully that will also mean that we know the 2006 figure when we meet at next year's Memorial Day.
As we left to go home - it was a day that we will all remember.
Joergen Kjaer - president