Why did a Finnish court absolve two policemen of apparent racist conduct?

by , under Enrique

When reporting some stories, denials and what is not said are the spotlights that reveal the real story. A flat denial by the police that ethnic profiling doesn’t occur suggests that it is probably more widespread than we think.

A court ruled on Monday that the actions of two Helsinki policemen, who used excessive physical force to detain a Roma, calling the man “stupid,” “do things like a monkey” and that “you [the Roma] are always guilty [of something],” were not racially motivated.

On top of this, the evidence from the CCTV cameras at the gas station were lost after they were transferred to a memory stick.

The two policemen were, however, fined for using excessive force, according to an MTV3 story.

OK, fine. What constitutes a racially motivated crime or conduct by a public official in Finland? I’m certain that this is clearly spelled out in the law. How it is applied is another story.

In some stories that we’ve covered on Migrant Tales, there is the feeling that the police are sometimes more keen on playing down the role hate crime. Black February is a case in point.

But what can you expect from the latest court ruling? All the judges that made the ruling are white. So were the two policemen, who belong to a service that is 99% white. Pitted against these two power institutions is a member of the Romany minority, which has endured social exclusion, prejudice and racism in this country for five hundred years. 

Add to the backdrop a classified internal investigation made public in August into the behavior of the Helsinki Court of Appeals, which showed some judges sexually harassed women at parties, used racist and sexist language during recesses and in meetings outside of the courtroom.

While we’re not suggesting that there is a connection with the classified internal investigation and the latest ruling, the report raises more questions than answers.

If judges in the internal investigation were guilty of discriminatory and unprofessional behavior, what about others like teachers, policemen and other public officials?

While I believe that Finland has the resources to put intolerance and discrimination on the defensive, our response to these types of social ills is still meek. Kuvankaappaus 2013-9-24 kello 8.26.40

Read full MTV3 story here.

Why is our response to intolerance so mild?

We could shed light on that question by asking why do leading newspapers like Helsingin Sanomat still give so much space to the opinions of MPs that have been convicted for ethnic agitation?

The answer is simple: Institutional racism, which we defend consciously because we agree with the present ethnic order of things or subconsciously, because we don’t know better.

Some may ask how can some members of the Finnish police service be racist. Read about the Stephen Lawrence case and others in Britain. They offer disturbing proof of how ethnicity plays a key role in resolving “white” justice in the police service.

We’re missing the point when we close our eyes to racism and justice. Not only do we have the ability to destroy a person’s life because of his or her ethnic background, we miss an important opportunity to strengthen our values and institutions.

The police is a service that serves everyone in this society.

When the police service forgets this important fact, as it did in the MTV3 story, it does great damage to its credibility. If the Roma and other visible minorities mistrust the Finnish police because they consider their conduct racist and unprofessional, we ‘d have to agree that they have a valid point.

The fact that they are doing too little to address this issue reinforces the fact that intolerance is an issue.

Absolving policemen for making racist and derogatory remarks to a member of a minority in Finland sends the wrong message to those who are policing.

Thank you JD for the heads-up!


  1. PS voter

    You seem to simplify things too much and distort facts. For example, media in Finland has been attacking Perussuomalaiset and Halla-aho for years, because it has been taboo to criticise multiculturalism and too lax immigration. And far too often the attacks in media against Halla-aho or some other Perussuomalaiset, have been quite childish, dishonest, exaggerated and contained distortion of facts, which has backfired. I think especially Halla-aho
    is so hated, because he tends to present facts and persuasive arguments and his opponents typically aren’t able to present real counterarguments which would be based on facts and as persuasive arguments.

    And I would like to remind that many other and arguably more important things receive much less media interest than the little amount racism that exists. It is not typical for Finns to start huge media fights easily, nor do Finns go to streets to violently protest and put barricade, like in some other countries tend to happen quite often.

    BTW, you have often criticised Hommaforum and not seeing anything good about it. I would like again to remind you that Hommaforum is diverse place and not all the writers there are even that critical towards immigration. I have noticed that even one regular writer (with nickname “me”, if I remember correctly) seems to be a Somali who defines himself as a Muslim. This particular news about the conviction of two policeman was noticed on Hommaforum as well and many writers criticised the police, as you can see yourself:


    Don’t you find anything wrong in always criticism Hommaforum, Perussuomalaiset and persons who oppose multiculturalism or mass immigration and seeing them as some kind of homogeneous mass, if you on the other hand think that we should treat for example Muslims or Romas as individuals and not generalizing everything negative things to apply to all of them? And I am willing to criticise other perussuomalaiset when I feel that they have done something wrong or are wrong in some issue, but you don’t seem to be willing to have any dialogue about the wrongs that many immigrants have done.

    I firmly believe that frank discussion is the way to go forward instead of closing eyes and ears when faced with unpleasant facts. I hope that some day you will start to believe in that as well.

    And for the record, let me just say that I think Stephen Lawrence was handsome young man and it was quite regretful that he was killed, especially as he had bright future waiting for him. And if it was up to me, I am not sure if I would be ever willing to release his killers from prison. And I have condemned similar acts against immigrants as well and hoped for tougher sentences. It has been Mark who has said that long sentences are wrong or don’t help. My question to him is that if he feels that long sentences don’t work and that we should have shorter sentences, is there any lower livit we should have for sentences and should we just release even killers after one day in prison? Or should we even bother putting them prison in the first place? In my opinion, we could keep dangerous criminals in prison for the rest of their lives, if sentences don’t help and they are likely to reoffend, if we release them.

    BTW, I would also like to remind you what Baroness Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrenc,e recently said: “White minority groups are suffering a form of racism in Britain but it is rarely even spoken about.”

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –For example, media in Finland has been attacking Perussuomalaiset and Halla-aho for years, because it has been taboo to criticise multiculturalism and too lax immigration.

      This is one of the most incredible statements made by the PS over and over again. They claim that it is a taboo to criticize multiculturalism and our immigration policy.

      Is it a taboo? Go to any popular chat sites in Finland and you’ll find a pretty unrestricted debate (very rarely with immigrants or visible minorities) on multiculturalism and immigration policy.

      How do they give the PS inflated respectability and importance. How do you think, PS Voter, the PS became the third-largest party in parliament in 2011 after wining only 5 seats in 2007? The media played an important role. If you don’t remember, they are all those messages that victimized immigrants as rapists and lazy social-welfare bums. Those stories, which were spread thanks to the media and social media like Uusi Suomi, enabled some PS MPs to get into parliament.

      The Finnish media is part of the problem if we speak about racism in this country.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –BTW, you have often criticised Hommaforum and not seeing anything good about it. I would like again to remind you that Hommaforum is diverse place and not all the writers there are even that critical towards immigration.

      Hommaforum is only the voice of the racists that were elected to parliament. It is the air that the anti-immigration bubble has been inflated with. It is Halla-aho’s pet to spread his far-right and radical views on immigration.