Friday, January 06, 2017

The Much Maligned Racial Profiling, Isn't It?

"This was clearly about preventing similar incidents to last year."
"A large part of this group that was checked was such that criminal acts were to be expected. That is why we took this clear approach."
Cologne chief of police, Juergen Mathies 
Deutschland Köln - Domplatte zur Silvesternacht (DW/D. Regev)
In a bid to prevent a repeat of last year's sex attacks, state police focused on men of North African descent on New Year's Eve. Police Chief Jürgen Mathies has faced criticism for praising the success of the practice.
While denying that the preventive strategy Cologne police utilized for New Year's eve to ensure no repeat of last year's sexual assault free-for-all mostly blamed on North African asylum seekers and Middle Eastern refugees, that enraged Germans had anything to do with racial profiling, Cologne police chief Juergen Mathies did laud the effort's outcome. The mass assaults and robberies that so violently marred last year's celebrations when hundreds of women in Cologne were victimized were avoided this year.

Hundreds of men were detained by police and screened at the main railway station, planning to head toward Cologne city centre. That same intention and the outcome that gained notoriety around the world as a symbol of Berlin's hasty decision-making in absorbing almost a million refugees and migrants leading to a social crisis and increased crime rate in the time since had tainted Chancellor Angela Merkel's migrant policy of welcoming all who arrived at Germany's borders.

German police in Cologne GETTY
Police in Cologne attempted to prevent a repeat of the city's 2015 sex attacks

Chief Jürgen Mathies did admit that his officers had orders to target men whose appearance was clearly that of North African extraction, for police checks, but he explained that "for the vast majority, there was a clear threat of criminal activity present", in that there was a plan to disrupt the occasion with violence emulating what had taken place the year before. The security checks, he appeared to stress, had not solely targeted North Africans but any others who presented as a potential threat.

And then, the issue of police-speak, shorthand of the descriptive "Nafri" referring to men of North African origin, assaulted the sensibilities of police critics.Those critics found it particularly gallingly unacceptable that an update on the official Twitter account for the Cologne branch of North Rhine-Westphalia state police read: "At the central station we have checked hundreds of Nafris". But the enraged protests of what the German social progressives termed the German right-wing contingent who hoisted placards damning violent actions by refugees was also prevented this year.

Protestors in Lepzig rally
Reuters. Getty Images
A fact that was not lost on Green party co-chair Simone Peter who questioned the legality of the police strategy that prevented a repeat of last year's mass sex attacks and robberies. While acknowledging the usefulness of heightened security in the city obviously having succeeded in limiting violence and attacks during this year's celebrations, she had this to say: "It raises the question of proportionality and legality when around 1,000 people were checked and partially detained based on their appearance alone."

Would she have preferred that they were permitted to proceed with their planned attacks, and then have the police move in after the fact? And is it not only logical and rational to observe that those who perpetrated those outrages last year and suffered no penalties for their actions, implemented by those very actions the reputation that now precedes them? And with the clear intention of repeating those actions which resulted in no arrests, detentions or penalties last year, offering an incentive for a repeat performance, wasn't it more intelligent to stop it before it began again?

Last year's New Year's Eve event saw an estimated thousand men of largely North African and Middle Eastern origin gathering in groups to mount those violent sexual assaults, which reflected in fact, a popular type of cultural social mischief acceptable in their countries of origin, but not in civilized communities. Their unexpected appearance on the square traditionally hosting the celebration of the incoming year saw them molesting hundreds of women, with an inadequate police presence and inappropriate response to the outrage. This year's event was a decided improvement

On this occasion, in contrast, three thousand police officers were deployed, 300 in the cathedral square itself. In the area around the square fireworks, though traditional in German celebrations bringing in the new year, were banned. A light installation presentation was planned instead. And concrete blocks surrounded the square to ensure that no vehicular homicidal maniac would take advantage of crowds of people, defenceless and ripe for Islamist jihad mass murder as happened in the Berlin Christmas market.

As for the 'racial profiling', Chief Mathies said "we had groups of people who were comparably aggressive", to the men who had carried out the attacks last year, so the police initiative was also rewarded in the sense that no confrontation between German citizens outraged at refugee violence took place, as well. And, according to the police chief, once the identification of 650 people took place, 190 were ordered to leave the area, while 92 were taken into custody and 27 placed under arrest.

Austria police GETTY  Austria's New Year's celebrations were plagued by violence and sex assaults

In Innsbruck, Austria, on the other hand, sexual assaults by a group of men described as being "of foreign appearance" took place against women at a similar New Year's celebration, reflective of the one that infuriated Germans the year before in Cologne. Another series of sexual assaults, just groups of men looking to have a good time, as per their idea of harmless pranks because women don't know any better than to entice men with their shameless non-Muslim garb.

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