The Finnish police service’s deep denial of racism among its ranks is no surprise

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The publishing of the racist comments in a secret Facebook group for the Finnish police by online news site Long Play shouldn’t surprise us, even if Interior Minister Paula Risikko  and National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehminen suggest the contrary. 

A Somali Finn, who spoke on condition of anonymity, wasn’t surprised at all by the news of the secret Facebook group.

“The news doesn’t surprise me at all because the police in Finland are racist,” he said. “They can be racist and nothing happens to them. Who can you trust?”

According to Helsinki Timessome racists comments on the secret group’s wall include ridiculing the asylum seeker who attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself from a tree at Helsinki Station Square in March. The comment claimed that the hapless asylum seeker couldn’t even succeed at hanging himself.

Other comments argued that black people are inferior due to their culture and genetic makeup. The policeman substantiated his claim by stating that blacks hadn’t succeeded in any country.

The Facebook group shared articles from anti-immigration and racist groups like online magazine MV-lehti, far-right groups Suomen Sisu and Britain First.

The Facebook group consisted of over 2,800 members, or about one third of Finland’s police force of 7,000,according to Long Play.


Read the full story here.

Despite the Minister Risikko’s and National Police Commissioner Koleheminen’s constant assurances that the police service has zero tolerance for racism, the exposure of the secret Facebook group reveals much wider problems like denial and disrespect towards our ever-growing culturally diverse community.

Heads have started to roll. Marko Forss, Finland’s first online police officer, was sacked on Monday as head of the police service’s hate-speech task force. The interior ministry has allocated funds to such a task force in light of the rising problem of hate speech in Finland.

Forss, who was one of the admins of the secret Facebook group, expressed concern that some members had taken snapshots of the comments, which could incriminate him. Thus he wasn’t worried about the racist nature of the comments but that he’d be exposed as the admin of such a group.

 


 

Writes Forss: “Since my job is sensitive to more or less unfortunate publicity, I want to resign as admin of this group after this year.”                       Source: Long Play.

Speaking to the BBC, a Finnish police spokeswoman defended a Finns’ freedom of expression.

“Every Finnish national has freedom of speech, but the police are supposed to behave in their spare time in a way that doesn’t make the police look bad,” the spokeswoman said.

Examples of the police’s “tolerance” of racism was their wishy-washy stand on vigilante gangs in the beginning of 2016 and the suspicion that asylum seekers are organized rapists and criminals (sic!).

Moreover, a poll last year revealed that about half of the police officers surveyed said they had voted for the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) and anti-immigration populists Perussuomalaiset.*

The poll showed that close to 80% of the police surveyed consider the asylum seeker crisis as the most serious threat to Finnish security, according to YLE News. Another important matter that the poll revealed was that 25.1% of those polled voted for the NCP and 24.4% for the PS.

The poll offers us as well an answer why the police, whose authority is rarely questioned in Finland, has fumbled the ball and given mixed statements concerning vigilante patrols, exaggerated alleged sexual harassment crimes by asylum seekers that didn’t pan out as they thought, and even singled out migrant entrepreneurs who sell pizzas for under six euros to name a few.

What does the police really think about migrants and minorities? Does it ethnically profile such minorities? Certainly it does and a comprehensive study on the issue will be published next year in Finland.

Like with racism in the police service, ethnic profiling is another issue that has been dealt with denial and kid gloves.

The government, politicians and public servants like the police service are all to blame for allowing a social ill like racism to shed deeper roots in Finland. Like elsewhere, denial and outright support of racist behavior permit such a social ill from seeing another day.

Few public officials have the courage and leadership to challenge the problem even if it is causing great harm to our Nordic welfare state and ideals.

The official translation to Finnish of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party is the Finns Party. In our opinion, it is not only a horrible translation, but one that is misguided. A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Such terms like the Finns Party of True Finns promote as well in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and thereafter the acronym PS.

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