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3/1 Gaza protest criticises politicians

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‘Police discriminate during stop and search operations’

31 October 2007 - There are indications that police focus on black people while letting white people go during stop and search operations at metro stations, says GroenLinks party leader Judith Sargentini. She has asked the administration for a clarification.

A commuter told GroenLinks that police carried out a stop and search operation at Bijlmer Station on 3 October, during which white people were not searched. Marco Arbouw, reporter of the Amsterdam Centraal website, had a similar experience on 27 September at Waterlooplein Metro Station.

Arbouw passed the station twice. “But while my allochtone fellow travellers were being searched on all sides, I was again waved through in a friendly manner”. Bewildered, he decided to walk through the station yet another time. Again he was told to carry on, while ‘two Surinamese grandma’s’ were having their shopping bags searched.

According to an evaluation of the stop and search policy, policemen are instructed to search every person they encounter during a search operation. If people would get the impression that specific groups are targeted, support for the operations would dwindle fast. A survey revealed that many Amsterdammers support the idea of stop and search operations, but 76% find it important that police search everybody they encounter during such operations.

Police have been accused of ethnic profiling before. During a raid at the het Vervolg bar in Zuidoost last summer, only blacks would have been asked for ID’s. Alexandra Janssen told NRC Handelsblad: “People with a Dutch nationality were told to step forward. I reported to a policeman and said that I had left my papers at home. ‘No problem, you can go’, I was told. Then I got angry. I told them they were acting in a racist manner. ‘Madam, you are lucky that you may leave. And now move’, they told me”.

Photo: search operation at Wibautstraat Metro Station, May 2007 (photo Thijs Vissia). GroenLinks, Amsterdam Centraal, stop and search evaluation, NRC Handelsblad (all in Dutch)


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