HSL: Systemic racism and systemic denial in Finland

by , under All categories, Enrique Tessieri


We have recently read about two cases where security guards use force to handle a passenger that does not have a ticket. In both these cases, there is a link: both are black passengers. Both passengers were also on a transport or at a station operated by the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL).

The first case took place on June 23 in Espoo, while an East African nursing student was escorted violently out of the train. One security guard allegedly held her hand while the other had her in a chokehold.

“It was quite shocking when I saw this recent case,” said the East African nursing student. “I get nervous when I board a train because of what happened to me.”

The woman said that her lawyer has asked the police for the video footage of the incident but they have refused because the case “is still under investigation.”

The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) announced today that the company plans to arrange “social equality” courses for ticket inspectors, according to Yle.

If the victims of both cases are correct, it exposes what we’ve known for a long time: Some have more rights in our society than others despite the social equality rhetoric we often hear and made possible by our exceptionalism.

Watch video here.

Almost two weeks past when a 17-year-old black adolescent was allegedly violently assaulted by security guards for not having a valid ticket. The black adolescent ended up handcuffed and held on the floor while his white friend was allowed to leave.

The violent treatment of the security guards should not surprise us since a comprehensive study in 2018 on ethnic profiling by the University of Helsinki showed how ethnic profiling, especially by security staff, was a source of particular concern.

“Many said [in the study] that security guards were often rude and treated them roughly, even violently,” said the University of Helsinki Professor Suvi Keskinen of one of the ethnic profiling study’s findings.

The two cases in the story are a good opportunity to expose how systemic racism works in Finland.

How many black policemen are there in Finland? What about those that work for security firms? Too few to make a significant impact on policy.

And let’s not forget as well the racist trolling against the victim’s mother on social media.

The confidence of their impunity and ther racist arguments reveals how far some have stooped and how much work there is still to do on the anti-racism front.

  1. PS voter

    Why are again trying to cause racial tensions by spreading unfounded claims or outright lies about these cases? For example in the case of 17 year old person, police has reviewed the surveillance tapes and said that they back the story of HSL and not of the black persons. And now police is investigating slandering of HSL staff by these unfounded racism claims.

    Do you want to start some kind of race riots based on these lies and if so, why? And why don’t you ever condemn the violent attacks by immigrants towards Finnish people, even though they are much more common than vice versa? Where is equality in that? If you truly want sympathy for non Finnish persons, you should practice equality in these cases and condemn also their violence and not just violence towards them or unfounded claims of violence towards them.

    And of course the guards are rude and violent when you start resisting them. Best way to avoid that is to pay ticket and if you have broken the law and not paid it, then at least not resisting them.

  2. PS voter

    Now po lice has made more tho rough inve stigation of the ma tter. Their con clusion is that there was no evi dence of rac ism and that the bl ack b oy tried flee the scene witho ut pa ying, didn’t ob ey com mands, res isted vio lently and threa tened to be at the ticket insp ectors. I hope you have enough honor that you apo logize ticket inspectors and gu ards the false accu sations and condemn the boy who trav elling without valid ticket and instead of paying it, was vio lently resi sting. This was not the first time you spr ead unfo unded accu sations of rac ism. And I hope that cri minal charges are brou ght agai nst the boy as well as we should have zero tole rance for this kind of vio lent beh aviour. And the reason why the wh ite boy was trea ted better was because he beh aved better.