Calling out prejudice

We live in a relatively quiet little residential neighbourhood, filled with families who largely keep to themselves. The neighbourhood features two bus routes running through it and a small little shopping centre, along with schools, playgrounds and parks throughout. It’s not in the city centre, but close enough to not be in the ‘sticks’. It’s a fairly typical Finnish neighbourhood as far as we can tell.

Today, my husband looked out the kitchen window to see a couple of gentlemen obviously trying to get into their car after locking their keys inside. The car was parked just across from our building on the main road running through our neighbourhood. They were not being furtive, did not look suspicious, and certainly didn’t look to be hiding what they were doing.

A little while later, he was horrified to see not one but two police cars surrounding the car and gentlemen. Why? Most likely, simply because the gentlemen were black.

Anyone could have seen immediately had they cared to that these gentlemen were not simply trying to steal the car. For one, it didn’t seem particularly theft worthy (e.g., several newer cars were parked on either side of it!). In addition, this didn’t happen during the dead of night, but in the middle of the day. That isn’t to say that thefts don’t happen during the middle of the day. But, they guys were in no obvious hurry. Buses and cars and people are traversing the route upon which the car was parked. Finns may keep to themselves, but I doubt they’d turn a blind eye to an obvious car theft. This was obviously not an attempted theft.

Using the infamous coat hanger / wire trick to get at the locking mechanism, laughing and smiling whilst doing so, these men posed no threat to anything other than their car’s own paint job. Maybe, had the person who felt it necessary to phone in to the police stopped to observe the demeanor of those gentlemen rather than to simply note their skin colour, the two police vans called to our neighbourhood could have spent their time more effectively fighting crime.

I wonder, would they have called the police had those gentlemen been white? Would they have given them a second glance?

(Addendum: The gentlemen did get their car door open and were happily on their way once they got the doors open. No windows or locks were broken in the process.)

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