Finnish govt condemns ‘extremist’ anti-migrant street patrols
Helsinki (AFP) - Volunteer street patrols linked to neo-Nazi groups have emerged in several Finnish towns in recent months claiming to protect locals from what they call “Islamic intruders”, a trend the Finnish government condemned on Thursday.
“There are extremist features to carrying out street patrols. It does not increase security,” Finnish Interior Minister Petteri Orpo said in an interview with national broadcaster YLE.
“Volunteers have no right to use force,” he added.
Unarmed groups of men, most identifying themselves as “Soldiers of Odin” in reference to an ancient Germanic and Scandinavian god, have been seen patrolling in at least five different towns where reception centres for newly-arrived asylum seekers have recently opened.
There have been no reports yet of incidents between the civilian patrols and migrants.
Some patrol groups have been photographed by local media clad in black jackets and hats marked “S.O.O” for Soldiers of Odin.
Article from Finland without quite the same derisive labeling of the above article.
Police Commissioner: Street patrols have ”no special rights”
Finland’s top police officer has welcomed the establishment of street patrols in many parts of the country—but warned that these patrols have no law enforcement status and are merely private citizens. His remarks caused some confusion, given the racist and far-right background of some of the groups now operating in towns nationwide.
National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen on Tuesday commented on the spread of street patrols in Finnish towns, stating that the volunteer forces are a welcome development.
“This kind of community voluntary work is to be supported,” said Kolehmainen, according to a press release on the national police website. “It’s really good that citizens are interested in security questions in their own districts and want to improve the security and comfort of their environment.”
Kolehmainen said that the patrols had no special right to intervene in other people’s activities, but could for example observe if a crime is in progress and then inform the police.