Blog Home

Malmo’s Hackerspace attacked … collateral damage?

dcuartiellesDecember 1st, 2009

[by D. Cuartielles, the rest of the Arduino team might not subscribe these opinions]

During the weekend Malmo’s Hackspace was visited by the local police. The visit could be classified as “collateral damage”, since the reason for them being there (they say) was that beverages were being served during a punk concert. The hackerspace shares room with the rest of the community at the leftist association building Utkanten.

Also as a side effect the police took with them all sorts of gear. Some of it, as Slashdot comments happened not to be legal in Sweden. Who put those things there is not very clear to me, however legality within the EU is a very weak term, e.g. you could buy an airgun in Sweden, but not in Spain, you could buy spray cans but not transport them in a plane, you could buy alcohol in a supermarket in Germany and bring it up to Sweden -but you couldn’t sell it to anyone… the list is pretty long.

I am part of the activities being conducted at the hackerspace and that I don’t find anything being done to be even morally questionable. We -the Swedish hacking community- share an endless desire to play with technology and learn from each other and that is why we meet. Furthermore, Malmo’s hackerspace, as well as the whole Utkanten community pay the rent, and get along pretty well with the owner. On top of that, according to Swedish laws, it is allowed to serve all sorts of beverages -and charge for them- among the members of a club, like the one that was taking place during that evening when the police broke in.

The question is then … why did they come in and why did they take the hacker’s computers with them? Police is there to protect and to serve … all of us! So far there is no good explanation for the visit, and I doubt there will be one. We -hackers- happen to pay taxes like everyone else. As a matter of fact many of us are IT professionals, educators, freelance… with high tax rates. The hackerspace is our way of expression, of meeting up others with similar interests, and now these dudes came in to spoil the fun. You know what? Since we are in a free country, and since we haven’t made anything illegal, and since we are all “proper” citizens, we will keep on meeting, we will redo whatever they broke, we will repaint the walls, and we will even buy again the key-copying machines they took with them.

At this point, if I think about it, we should thank the Swedish police for bringing the hackerspace in the media, they just made us stronger!