Thanks to the mixed statements by the police, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government and President Sauli Niinistö concerning asylum seekers, we have today as well vigilante groups like the Soldiers of Odin and neo-Nazi Kansalinen Vastarinta patrolling our streets. Many of the members of these vigilante groups have criminal and far-right backgrounds.
The hesitancy of the police, the government and the president to condemn what is and what isn’t racist and far-right behavior is at the heart of the problem. Their mixed statements have not only fed xenophobia and far-right groups in this country but are tarnishing our international image.
Aren’t we supposed to be a beacon of hope to those fleeing war and poverty? Aren’t we supposed to have one of the best educational systems in the world? Haven’t we built a successful Nordic welfare society based on social equality? Why are we then acting like a bunch of scared people who have never seen foreigners before?
My experience, and I’m certain that of many others like me, with the police has eroded trust in this public service. One only has to read a few lines of former Perussuomalaiset (PS)* councilman Olli Sademies’ Facebook page or hear MP Tom Packalén’s bigoted views about migrants and minorities understand that there is a deep suspicion of anything that isn’t white and Finnish.
Does the police treat me fairly or is my background a factor? Honestly, I don’t know. The police have done little to ensure me of the contrary.
How many black policemen are there in Finland?
In the same way that there is mistrust of Finland’s police service one wonders about our political institutions and their representatives, which appear to be more interested in defending their rights against ours.
Would I turn to the police if I were in trouble? Certainly because I have no choice but I’d keep an eye out for the Loldiers of Odin. They are today one of the most effective answers this country has to the ever-growing xenophobia and right-wing populism we are witnessing in Finland.
Go mighty Loldiers of Odin!