Yesterday evening discussions were held about a subject that too often is sneered at or neglected in the discussions about how we get a better society. It concerned the matter of club racism and police brutality. Since I want things to improve and also the quality in the police work and know that the police force are meant to be there to prevent crime then it’s deeply problematic when wider and deeper structures and situations like those mentioned yesterday appear. In this text I intend to highlight some serious attitude and behaviour problems within the police and the club, disco, restaurant business… as well as the society as a whole. Next week I will come with some suggestions that might help improving the situation for the police force, but also in making the trust better and society situation calmer. What I now write might be read by people in 80 countries all over the world…so far.. maybe more later.
When I came to Tryckeriet/The Print Station at Rolfsgatan 7b yesterday evening I was met by Jallow Momodou from Afrosvenskarnas Riksförbund/The Afro-Swede’s National Association, http://www.afrosvenskarnasriksforbund.se, Charlene Rosander from Café Pan Afrika and victimized Alpha Kanté from Senegal. He had his right arm in plaster as you can see above. More of his story below. In the picture above you see Karin Henrikz from Malmö mot Diskriminering/Malmoe against Discrimination discussing with Alpha Kanté and Jallow Momodou. They want an external association that scrutinizes cases of unnecessary police brutality. As it is now the police investigates the police and almost all cases are closed fairly quickly. A system like the one in Great Britain is wanted, but adapted after Swedish law system. A system where external lawyers, experts and laymen scrutinize these cases. Yesterday several stories came up that highlighted a very dark side of police behaviour which is utterly unacceptable, as well as within the club and entertainment business. The latest victim of this was Alpha Kanté above who was victimized and brutally treated unnecesseraly last weekend, just after the Eurovision Song Contest here in Malmoe.
Karin Henrikzen is a lawyer and she has been working for the association Malmö mot Diskriminering for a year and a half. They deal with all kinds of discrimination, on working places, within the education system and other situations. They can be found at http://www.malmomotdiskriminering.se Some cases might also be taken higher up to Diskrimineringsombudsmannen/the Discrimination Ombudsman (DO) at http://www.do.se on Government level. Karin Henrikz said that it’s extra problematic in cases like this since the law against discrimination doesn’t cover the police work. However Malmö mot Diskriminering has been involved in the case of Alpha, trying to help and support him. Karin told us that they help with legal guidance, writing complains, damages claims and reports. She said that the legal system is moving slowly, that it takes time to change laws. She mentioned the campaign Fight Racism Now and that in Malmoe 50% of the discrimination cases concern ethnic discrimination and sadly enough that many times the police here was the culprit. Malmö mot Diskriminering has existed only for a couple of years and they get loads of cases. 2011-2012 they had 66 cases and less than half way through 2013 already 70 new cases. They are only a few working there and now they have a temporary stop for recieving any more so that they might be able to handle the cases properly. Behrang Miri said that he thought that it was a pity that they had to stop recieving cases, even if only temporarily, but the pressure is too high at the moment, both here in Malmoe and other cities, Karin Henrikz explained. Professor Mattias Gardell talked about how we divide the financial resources.
So what happened last weekend? Alpha Kanté had been to an African party, was dressed in an African shirt and in a good mood. He’s a 34-year old Sengalese and was soon going to start a new job after having validated his competence. He had a contract with the firm and would start on June 10th. He was happy. Together with some friends he went to the club Harry’s. There the guards stopped him and said: “You can’t come in here in your African shirt”. Alpha asked why? Is there anything wrong with my clothes? He wasn’t violent, only emotionally hurt. The guards told him to leave. Then some police officers appeared. They didn’t ask what was happening or if they could help, but instead told him to leave. The policemen suddenly grabbed Alpha and forced him onto the ground, twisting his arms so much that Alpha felt something break inside his right arm. Then the police took him into the mini bus. There they grabbed him, stamped with their feet on his head and back. When he asked why they treated him like a slave they laughed and said: “Ha ha. So we’re in that age again.” Alpha complained that he was injured and in serious pain and needed to see a doctor. The police officers neglected that and said he only was bleeding a little bit. They stamped on him again and the female police was the worst. At the station they stripped him of all his clothes, while he continued to complain about his hurt arm and hand. They put Alpha in a cell and let him there over the night. He shouted that he was in pain, but nobody listened. The next morning he was taken out, given his clothes and stuff, still maltreated and sent to hospital where the doctor discovered that Alpha’s arm was broken. It will take 8 – 12 months for it to heal completely and the job that Alpha would start in June he won’t be able to take.
When Jallow Momoduo tried to help Alpha and went with him to the police they didn’t want him to be there and support him as a victim. Jallow explained that Alpha didn’t know Swedish very well and needed an interpreter either in his own tongue or in French. However the police never called any interpreter, but instead some officer tried to use google translate. In the police report it said about the evening in question that Alpha had “been waving with his hand” and that he “hurt his hand of unknown reason”. About the later discussion together with Momodou it said that “the plaintiff had renounced his right to victim support”. That was also a lie Jallow Momodou explained since Alpha didn’t even know of that right. Today Friday at five there will be a demonstration at Davidshall about this case and this phenomenon.
Other stories were unfolded last night. Siavosh Darakhti who’s a youth leader of Persian background and positive and prized front figure for Young Muslims Against Antisemitism experienced something similar at New Year’s Eve. He too had gone to Harry’s but was stopped by the guards. Instead of calling him names with African connotation they called Siavosh “black head” and refused to let him in. He too asked why, but the guards refused to answer. He was dressed handsomely in suit and expensive shirt to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Then suddenly police officers appeared. Neither Siavosh was violent, but they forced him onto the ground, took him into the mini bus and started beating him. He asked why they treated him like this when he was someone who tried to build bridges, was a youth leader and had taken initiative to Young Muslims Against Antisemitism. They just laughed and continued to beat him. In Siavosh’s case one of his shoulders were broken. At the station they continued beating him, calling him names like “bloody immigrant” and giving him ear boxes, tore his nice shirt apart and destroyed his clothes. Siavosh Derakhti too was thrown into a cell. For what? For being an immigrant youth who wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Afterwards the police report said that Siavosh probably was a drug dealer.
Entertainer, debater and lecturer Behrang Miri, who’s originally from Iran, said that when he was younger and was stopped by the police his experience was that the female police officers were the worst. They were more aggressive, more hateful, more prejudiced. Jallow Momodou said that it’s important to highlight the problems in a peaceful way and not returning the bad treatment and giving the police reason to treat them badly. Charlene Rosander from Café Pan Afrika told her story. She’s now 28 years old and when she was seven her 14-year-old brother had been stopped by the police without having commited any crime, taken into their car and driven to the beech woods some miles east of Malmoe put there and told to walk home as best as he could. Charlene and her parents hadn’t believed him when he told them what had happened, but over the years she has heard similar stories and gradually realised that these things happen on a fairly regular basis. Actual racism does exist within the police and a couple of years ago a female police officer Jeanette Larsson reported her own working place Malmöpolisen for racism and told us that in internal education material nicknames like Nigger Niggerson had been used about fiction characters.
When it comes to the club environment Jimmy Touré who has been working in that business for many years was very upset. It’s him you see here below. In the late 1960’s he was working on clubs in Paris, France. He told us yesterday about an incident in Paris from 1968. The artists Sidney Poitier and Miriam Makeba were going to perform at the King Club, but were stopped by the guards who didn’t know them and refused to let them in because they were black. The audience were waiting for Poitier and Makeba, but they had to go back to their hotel rooms. In 1970 Jimmy Touré came to Sweden. He has been working as a DJ and a club owner. He says that he has seen the blatant racism among club owners and guards. How often guards actually abuse and seriously beat guests. Often the guards are told to reject different kinds of groups based on actual looks and racism. Jimmy stopped working in this business because of that. The worst places in Malmoe when it comes to this are said to be Privé, Étage and Club F, but here now also Harry’s.
There has to be changes in attitudes and laws. When people are badly treated they sooner or later rebel. To avoid social turmoil and society problems these things have to improve. These are not the only factors involved or the only reasons for the problems we see in society, but they are most definitally contributing. Things have to improve and change now.
Anders Moberg, May 31st 2013