The Avarn Security guards scandal is a monster created by our institutions

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The surprising matter about the Avarn Security scandal, when (in)security guards used excessive force and humiliated their victims, was that it wasn’t a surprise. Poor selection criteria, lack of proper psychological training, little to no internal and external regulation, and near-blind trust would eventually lead us to the present scandal. 

The positive side of the scandal is that the police service and media can make a difference by bringing to light such abuses.

Migrant Tales has written several cases involving the questionable professional treatment of security guards. Remember in June 2020, when two security guards aggressively escorted a black East African nursing student out of a train? One of them held her arm, and the other had her in a chokehold.

What about Moustafa Tito Sliem, who alleges that he was assaulted by five security guards in Helsinki’s Itäkeskus? Another case reported by the Helsinki Times of a black father and his son being treated dehumanizing after returning from a basketball game in Tampere.

Another case in 2020 that received a lot of coverage by the media. Two friends, one black and white youth passed the security guards at the Helsinki Railway metro station who were checking tickets. The security guard didn’t stop the white youth, but the black one was.

Writes Dr. Faith Mkwesha, the mother of the black youth, posted on Facebook:

I asked Dr. Mkwesha what thoughts she had when she heard about the Avarn Security scandal. The same company had detained her child.

“When I saw this thing in the newspapers About Avarn Security, it triggered my trauma due to what happened to my son in Helsinki,” she said. “For me, the pain [of that incident] came back.”

Dr. Mkwesha said that if the conversation she had with Avarn Security had helped the company mitigate the use of excessive force, the current scandal would not have happened. Moreover, my son would have never suffered what he did at the Helsinki metro Railway Station.

Instead of improving their ways, all efforts were made to cover up what happened, according to her.

“The police investigation ended quickly in a hush-hush style by stating that there was no [racism and ethnic profiling] case,” she continued. “And then it was my son’s fault, a seventeen-year-old boy still suffering from traumas due to what happened.”

Dr. Mkwesha said that her son has not been able to attend school due to what happened, and has destroyed their family life.

“For me, the main issue is that they [the police and security guards] don’t take this issue [racism and ethnic profiling] seriously,” she continued. “Do something, so things like this don’t happen! But they hush-hush it, and it happens again.”

She added that one way to improve matters is to train their security guards to be more professional and humane.

Yassin’s case

One of the most recent cases that Migrant Tales covered involves Yassin, a young Moroccan naturalized Finn. The whole ordeal took his wife and two-month child eight hours and involved numerous delays of their flight and poor customer service. In the end, Yassin protested by raising his voice at the ticket desk employees, who called security.

“I have never been handcuffed in my life and pinned down to the floor with three security guards,” said Yassin. “My [Italian] wife said she does not want to step on Finnish soil again. You can go back yourself!”

See videohere.

He said he had filed charges against the Securitas security company for excessive force. He also suspects that he mistreatment at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport if he were white. “I don’t believe that a white Finn would have been treated as I was,” he said.

What thoughts went through Yassin’s mind when he read about how Avarn Security had used excessive force and humiliated its victims?

“I’m shocked because this is so common,” he said. “I can’t find the words. I still haven’t digested what happened to me. They should make a national investigation into this [Avarn Security]. You need to get to the bottom of this. You are looking for trouble if you hire neo-Nazis or some with shitty ideology and give them power.”

Studies that lead to no action

There are many good studies on discrimination in Finland, even on ethnic profiling, which is illegal. The problem with these studies is that their findings appear to have little impact on policy. It is incredible, but even today, Romany women are followed around by security guards at stores.

One of the findings of Finland’s first comprehensive study on ethnic profiling concluded the rudeness of security guards. “Rude” is a diplomatic way of saying it. Should we add the terms “terrorize” and “(in)security?”

There is no excuse for how Avarn Security guards or any other security comapny guards act. We have studies and numerous cases of their “rudness” in public, which could mean “terrorizing” and fostering “(in)security.

Here are some headlines of the The Stopped – Pysäytetyt study on ethnic profiling:

MTV: Ethnic profiling is so common that some minorities are used to it – security guards are rude but the police are more polite

Helsingin Sanomat: Helsinki police: A lot of work has been done to do away with ethnic profiling – according to a new study (police) stops are common.

YLE NEWS: Study: Ethnic profiling in Finland continues despite legal prohibition. 

YLE: I considered it odd that they stop me a black person at every metro station – ethnic profiling affects people’s daily lives 

Helsinki University: Ethnic profiling is a problem in Finland, according to a research and journalism project 

Iltalehti: Study on ethnic profiling by the police: You are invited to search for “non-Finnish looking” people – language skills are asked later.

Ilta-Sanomat: A Nigerian woman standing in the street was asked “what are you doing here” (by the police) – this is what ethnic profiling looks like in Finland.