The Helsinki police service tweeted today that 260 people were spot checked at the Puhos shopping center of Eastern Helsinki on Saturday where two people with warrants for their arrest and two “illegal” or undocumented migrants were apprehended. The number of people arrested by the police was a mere 1.5% of all those they spot checked.
The Helsinki police tweeted as well that those that were spot checked weren’t registered as alleged by Migrant Tales. They also said, as we know, carry out similar spot checks at different shopping centers elsewhere.
The Helsinki police claim that both Finns and foreigners were spot checked. We do not know, however, how many white Finns were stopped and if those Finns they stopped were second-generation or naturalized Finns.
Considering that people from the Middle East and countries like Somali visit the Puhos shopping center and that they are vulnerable visible migrants and minorities who suffer from high unemployment and social exclusion, it is odd that the police would claim as in a statement that the spot checks were “done in very good spirits.”
Who likes to be stopped by the police? What about if you are a person who comes from a war zone? Would you be happy if the police, National Border Guards, Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI), Customs, Rescue Department, and City of Helsinki health inspectors stopped you?
Speaking for myself, I would not like to be stopped by the police even if I don’t have anything to hide. I lived in Argentina during the dirty war (1976-83), when over 30,000 people vanished thanks to state terrorism. I am still traumatized by those years.
I was alerted by a Migrant Tales reporter while at a meeting in Brussels. The whole operation clearly upset him like it must have many others.
Here is a question to the Helsinki police service: How many black police officials were present on Saturday? Were all the National Border Guards white? Were there any officials who were visible minorities who carried out the spot checks? Were there any Muslims among their ranks?
Modernizing the police service to represent as well the population of Helsinki would instill trust rather than erode it.
Read original tweets here.
While it is a good matter that the Helsinki police service is accountable for its actions, the tweets say nothing about the police’s alleged behavior at the mosque. Why did they spot check everyone who entered and left the mosque? What about the police dog and the shoes? There is no tweet about a policeman who allegedly snapped back and said that “this was his country” and that he had a right to ask the person for his ID.
What would happen if the police carried out spot checks at the Helsinki Synagogue? Would they even consider such a thing?
Moreover, one Somali called Appa asked the police if he could film him while he was at the door of the mosque. The policeman said he had no right to film him even if he is a public official.
We have seen white Finns from far-right groups like Finland First film police and insulted them in public. Nobody stopped them from filming the police, but a black Somali doesn’t have such a right to film the police.
How can the police and other officials build trust with members of those communities that they spot checked Saturday?
Answering that question could go a long way in building trust.
Was it all worth it to only apprehend 4 suspects?