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Swedish police apologise for Roma tweet

The Local · 24 Jul 2012, 14:32

Published: 24 Jul 2012 14:32 GMT+02:00

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"Our intentions were good but the result was not successful. We have taken on board a great many good points. Important discussion," read a tweet on the @YBSödermalm Twitter account late Monday.

The controversy has its roots in a report concerning an elderly lady who was robbed of her handbag in the Frescati area of Stockholm on Sunday evening.

Viktor Adolphson, one of the two police officers behind the Twitter account, posted a description of the subject.

"Attention: bag snatching at Statoil Frescati at 11:10 Male, 20-30 years-old, black t-shirt, black shorts, black hair. 'Romani appearance' according to a witness."

The use of the phrase "Romani appearance" to describe the suspect prompted swift criticism from other Twitter users, a storm which continued to rage on Tuesday.

Former Left Party leader Lars Ohly was among those questioning the witness description.

"Can you explain what I should look for when I'm looking for someone with "Romani appearance"?" Ohly asked.

Hans Calandras, a former director of the European Roma Cultural Centre in Stockholm also reacted to the tweet.

"What does a Roma look like? It's as stupid as asking how a Swede looks. It is pure prejudice, and I do not understand what criteria they use. How would it look like if they said "looks Jewish?" he said according to the Mitt-i-Södermalm newspaper.

An apologetic Victor Adolphson has accepted the criticism.

"I understand that it may seem that it affects an entire ethnic group, it is a loaded word that is obviously perceived as prejudiced. In retrospect, I would have omitted it," he said to the newspaper.

Adolphson has however received support from Stockholm police colleagues.

"YB Södermalm has written over 6,000 tweets - if you write 6,000 press releases then it will be wrong sometimes," said Johan Lindgren, head of the Stockholm police social media policy.

@YBSödermalm is operated by Viktor Adolphson and Johan Säfström and is the official Twitter account of Södermalm police.

Story continues below…

The account has previously courted controversy when Säfström expressed support for the AIK football team in connection with a match.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Follow Peter on Twitter here.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:59 July 24, 2012 by robban70226
Fair enough but the reality is that I understand what "Romani appearance" is, normally everybody here is screaming blood because the polis never give description, here is one and everybody bitching about it, you can not have the pie and eat it!!!
13:06 July 24, 2012 by adshasta
Right on robban,
13:26 July 24, 2012 by TG22
Ridiculous, utterly ridiculous. Nothing but politically correctness nonsense.
13:32 July 24, 2012 by Scepticion
Right, I though Romani was supposed to be the political correct term (instead of gypsy), so now that it not politically correct anymore either.

How about the following description: Not African (what is the politically correct word for this now anyway), not Scandinavian fair skinned, not African American, not Eskimo, not East Asian, not South Asian, not native American, etc. is that helpful?
14:06 July 24, 2012 by Tennin
In the US the news and police always use descriptions such as "Caucasian/White, or Hispanic, African/Black or Asian in appearance" with this or that hair color, and this or that eye color. It isn't considered racist.

As post #1 & #3 says, I thought Romani was the politically correct word.
14:37 July 24, 2012 by Byggare Bob
you have missed the point - there is nothing wrong with the word "Romani" per se, but it says nothing about someone's appearance. They are a diffuse group of people spanning a number of ethnic groups.

Saying someone look Romani is like saying someone looks Greek, Swedish, French, British, American... It reflects only a stereotype held in the mind of the author, nothing else.

Does Barack Obama look less American than George Bush?

The man's physical appearance - black hair and so on is included.
15:26 July 24, 2012 by TG22

"I thought Romani was the politically correct word. "

These things change faster than the weather in Ireland...
16:34 July 24, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
Absolute insanity!! I know exactly what a gypsy looks like, so good for the police for using their ethnicity in a description! In my homeland (the USA) cops & media ALWAYS mention the ethnicity of a suspect in things like this. How on Earth is anyone suppossed to know what the suspect looks like then? Sweden has gone completey mad with this PC overload!
18:22 July 24, 2012 by Enjoyourlife
What is wrong with ´'Romani appearance? what a politically correctness society? How else were they supposed to decribe the guy? We have a lot of appearances in this world and we are to describe them as they are. if it was a swede? it won't have been a problem. I describe people the way they are and I expect others to describe me they way i am. Human beings are really complicated!!
19:04 July 24, 2012 by haladeen
LOL! Meanwhile look at the Ottawa police:




The suspects are described as follows:

Suspect #1: light skinned black male, possibly of mixed race, approximately 20-25 years old, 6'0 - 6'3 tall, average build, brown afro hairstyle approximately 3 inches long, with some "scruff" on his chin, narrow nose and spoke English with no accent. On the occurrence date he was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt.

Suspect #2: dark skinned black male, approximately 20-25 years old, 5'6 tall, stocky build, short groomed goatee on his face and spoke English with no accent. On the occurrence date he was wearing an olive green sweatshirt beneath a black winter vest.

Wow, racist police bastards! :)

In Sweden the descriptions is almost always: "man aged 30-35 with blue jeans and dark jacked".

19:29 July 24, 2012 by riose
Romani is an ethnic group. They should have described him as "romani", not romani appearance. You dont say black appearance.

This happens when you go too far with the newspeak bs.
20:29 July 24, 2012 by libertarianism
Infinitely stupid. OCPD.
20:42 July 24, 2012 by Swedish Cat
What type of message are we sending out here to criminals? I cannot believe that the police will have to appologize for trying to stop a guy who robbed an old lady. We are focusing on the wrong thing and the people who scream the loudest are getting away with anything!
20:48 July 24, 2012 by texaslass
What I find most bothersome is that the suspect is identified as a man and in the 20-30 age bracket. I feel that this is discriminatory to both men and 20 somethings. How do we know his age? "He" could just be a young-looking 31 year old woman with some hirsute issue.

What about "bipedal creature, possibly human." That is really all the information one needs to identify the suspect.
20:59 July 24, 2012 by Swedish Cat
Spot on texaxlass!!
07:21 July 25, 2012 by Rod Munch
Sweden has officially gone off the deep end. Absolutely f'ing ridiculous. I'd be interested to see if even Iraniboy, Methven, Cowboy, etc. agree with this. Surely they can't.
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