Saturday, June 16, 2007

stopp volden

Mikkel at Shädy Äcres has brought my attention to a story that didn’t make the American press. The original post is in Norwegian; I quote his reply to my question about the newspaper piece that ran with his picture in full:

Like many other local bloggers, we've published the name and picture of a policeman (see sidebar), one of four policemen involved in the arrest of a Norwegian-Nigerian man named Eugene Obiora last fall.

Obiora had refused to leave a social welfare office when his request for help was turned down. It was his son’s 12th birthday. He was calm when police arrived, but the situation soon escalated.

According to witnesses, one of the policemen put on black leather gloves and said: "I am going to strangle him."

Obiora was then strangled to death while handcuffed. Resuscitation was not attempted. He was left to die on the curb outside the welfare office.

One of the policemen in question has a history of racist abuse. In 1999 he was involved in the arrest of a black woman who, while working as a cleaner in a bank, accidentally triggered the alarm. As the policeman choked her, security cameras caught him saying: “You black devil”. It is documented that the same policeman also on at least one other occasion put the same disputed type of chokehold on an immigrant.

The internal affairs division just exonerated all the policemen involved, and the head of the policemen’s union had the audacity to characterize the arrest of Obiora as “good police work”.

Police have tried to keep the name of this “good policeman” secret from the public, but his identity is being made public by protesters in an attempt to put pressure on the state attorney and justice department. We felt it was our duty to participate in this campaign. We have also been busy arranging protests.

We want the four policemen tried for manslaughter, and we will not relent until that happens.

Local newspapers picked up on the story after posters showing the policeman’s face was used to advertise a public meeting on institutionalised racism. As I am one of the speakers at the meeting, they called me to get my opinion. The article questions whether my position as member of the Socialist Party’s local group for ethnic equality makes the civil disobedience contentious.

In the interview I express the opinion that I find the issue uncontroversial, since it is the Party’s official view that the policemen should be tried, and anyway the Socialist Party has room for many different opinions (local Party leaders have confirmed this view today).

Furthermore, I ask why this policeman’s rights should be more important than Obiora’s, and urge those who disagree to read the shocking witness statements. I also express the opinion that the police have brought this controversy on themselves by not reacting in the necessary manner.

Further down the page, a police spokesperson is shocked and horrified at what we’ve done.

That’s more or less it. The bikini babes[1] I have nothing to do with. You can’t pin that on me.


[1] See original inquiry.


Mikkel said...

You rock! Thanks for correcting my spelling mistakes.

According to news reports today, Norwegian police have started investigations to see if anyone making the identity of the policeman public can be tried for libel. They've been tearing down our posters all over the city.

Lolabola said...

I was wondering what that post was all about.

suttonhoo said...

he who faces the most jail time rocks hardest, Mikkel.

sounds like things are heating up over there -- keep us posted. good luck.

anne said...

Thanks for being our world-watch civil rights leader and for asking Mikkel to translate for us blindered Americans.

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