Police were out in full force last weekend in connection with another demonstration by the anti-Islamic group SIAN (Stopp islamiseringen av Norge). Police couldn’t say how much their mobilization cost the public, but in Denmark police reported have spent more than NOK 50 million having to protect such ultra-nationalists so far this year.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported that SIAN only drew around 20-30 supporters, compared to a few hundred counter demonstrators who turned up to drown them out. On hand to quell any violence were large police forces in full battle gear who’d also mounted barricades to keep the two demonstrating sides apart. Police were well-prepared, at a cost of thousands of kroner tied to calling in reinforcements and bringing in special equipment. City street cleaning crews were also on hand to restore order after the demonstration.
The police are charged with protecting both sides, including the ultra right-wing nationalists. “We don’t have a separate budget for these types of events,” Harald Nilsen, chief of staff for the Oslo Police, told Aftenposten. “It all comes out of the same pot.”
Asked about the costs SIAN generates with its demonstrations, some of which have turned violent, its leader Lars Thorsen told Aftenposten that “there’s something called freedom of expression, and it’s the state’s job to protect it.”