Were yesterday’s [Saturday’s] spot checks [at Puhos] necessary? Were they implemented with respect or to humiliate them?
Migrant Tales visited Sunday the Puhos shopping center of Eastern Helsinki and asked people, and business establishments after the police, National Border Guards, Regional Administrative Agencies (AVI), Customs, Rescue Department, and the City of Helsinki health inspectors carried out spot checks the previous day.
The spot checks didn’t involve all business establishments at the Puhos shopping center but some.
A Somali called Appa, alleges and was surprised that the police with dogs tried to go to the mosque.
The police carrying out spot checks in a coffee shop next to the mosque.
“There were about 15 police and three dogs and we said they could not go to the mosque with dogs and shoes,” said Appa. “The police were disrespectful. I asked one policeman what he’s doing and he responded that ‘this is our country and can ask for your identification.'”
Appa said that everyone who came or went to the mosque was registered by the police.
The Puhos shopping center located in Eastern Helsinki. Photo: Muhammed Shire.
“Some, who didn’t have any identification were taken away by the police,” Appa continued.
Another Somali, who called himself “No Name,” said that the spot checks on Saturday, which took place between 3 and 9 pm at the mosque, were meant “to make us feel inferior and that we are second-class citizens.”
At another store, the Somali owner didn’t want to talk about the spot checks and asked us to leave. Another one, we spoke to said that “it’s normal,” suggesting that black people get regularly stopped in Finland by the police.
One manager of a large ethnic store blamed the spot checks on “too many foreigners.” She admitted that such spot checks aren’t good because they scare away customers.
At a Kurdish restaurant, a worker admitted that the police acted with disrespect. They asked the customers who were at the restaurant for their identification.
“The police was disrespectful,” the employee, who is a Finnish citizen, said. “The customers were all surprised and they asked us what’s happening.”
Some people we approached did not want to talk to us even if we told them that we’re doing a story for Migrant Tales. We concluded that they may fear reprisals from the authorities if they did.
A baker who got spot checked said that everything went well and that these types of spot checks “were normal.”