Officers reassigned after racist remarks

Three Malmö police officers have been reassigned for yelling racial slurs in reference to a suspect detained during disturbances which hit the city’s Rosengård district in December.

Officers reassigned after racist remarks

Riot police called young people in the predominantly immigrant district “blattajävlar”, an ethnic slur which translates roughly into “damn coloured people” or “damn immigrants”.

On its own, “blatte” is a derogatory Swedish term often used in reference to an immigrant.

What police who uttered the comments didn’t know was that their statements had been caught on the police’s own video recordings, the Sydsvenskan newspaper reports.

“I’m completely outraged,” said Sweden’s national police chief Bengt Svensson to the TT news agency, who added that officers who hold views suggested by the choice of words aren’t welcome within the Swedish police force.

However, he said he doubted that the views expressed by the officers in question reflects the views held by the majority of Swedish police officers.

The video was played recently during the trial of a 21-year-old who stands charged for violent rioting in connection with the Rosengård demonstrations.

On the tape, listeners can hear internal chatter between police discussing the suspect.

“You little ape son of a bitch. Should I make him sterile when I catch him?” said one police officer on the tape.

“Yeah, he’s going to get beat so well that he won’t be able to stand on his own legs,” answered a colleague.

Later another officer chimes in, referencing a figure from an ad campaign for the Ica grocery store chain and adding his own racist twist.

“Yeah, I agree with that guy from Ica, ‘You’ve come to the wrong city, damn immigrant’,” he said.

Now the police are set to be reported for their offensive language, said the highest ranking police chief in Malmö, Ulf Sempert, who is distraught over his colleagues’ comments.

“I can only apologize to these young people,” Sempert told Sydsvenskan.

“I obviously don’t accept that they threw rocks, if they were involved in throwing rocks at police officers, but just because of that they don’t deserve to be treated this way by Swedish police.”

The officers’ comments even prompted a statement from Sweden’s Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask.

“I became extremely upset when I heard this on the news this morning. I know that police leadership is just as upset, and plan to report it,” she said.

“Every time a police officer makes a mistake and this isn’t a mistake, this is a huge mistake, the whole organization suffers because of it.”

The three officers featured in the video were identified during the day on Thursday and reassigned to jobs in which they are barred from interacting with the public.

“I have had a long conversation with one of the and he is deeply saddened by what he said,” Sempert said in a statement released on Thursday.


Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.