Footage of security officers dragging a pregnant black woman off a Stockholm subway train and pinning her to a bench has caused an outcry in Sweden, raising questions about the treatment of minorities in a country often seen as a beacon of tolerance.
Two security guards have been suspended and the police have begun an investigation into the encounter, officials said.
Footage showed the woman shouting in protest and a child crying as the episode unfolded. The video was widely shared on social media, with many Swedes complaining that a black woman had been unfairly targeted. Some expressed shock that the child had been left crying while the woman was being overpowered by the guards.
Many asked whether the guards, who appeared to be white, would have forcibly removed a pregnant white woman from the subway.
Henrik Palmer, a media officer for the Stockholm public transport authority, said on Sunday that the woman had been accused of traveling without a valid ticket and had grown angry when given a fine and asked to leave the train.
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Tomorrow all the witnesses that came forth with their evidence will be making their own reports. . . In these two videos you can see the victim dragged out of the train, her child taken from her and whilst she attempts to stand up she is held down. The full video is over 5 minutes long and I will try and edit and put it up tonight or tomorrow. . . After everything the Swedish public was shown in the recent @kallafaktatv4 documentary about how aftiswedes are racially profiled and mistreated this shouldn’t surprise anyone even if the victim is pregnant. The victim is currently in the hospital and all I can do is hope the baby is alright because if anything happens to that child. There will be hell to pay.
When she refused, he said, security officers took hold of her arm. “That is when the tumult started,” Mr. Palmer said, adding that her removal involved “the very disturbing consequence of her being pushed down on a bench.”
In the footage, she is shown having an argument with security guards, then being dragged off the train and held down.
A bystander can be heard saying: “Take it easy. She’s pregnant. Leave her alone.”
The woman was later taken by ambulance to Huddinge Hospital, where she spent the night, officials said.
The police said they were looking into charges of misconduct against the security guards, as well as charges of “violent resistance” by the woman against a public servant.
Sweden, once one of the most welcoming of nations for immigrants and long considered “a moral superpower,” as the political scientist Lars Tragardh put it, has experienced a rise in anti-immigration sentiment amid increasing globalization, immigration and anxiety about national and cultural identity.
The episode occurred days after a prominent TV investigative program reported on racial profiling in Sweden. TV4’s “Kalla Fakta” spoke with about 100 Swedes with foreign backgrounds who said they had been stopped, checked and treated by the police in a disparaging and condescending way.
John Stauffer, chief legal counsel with the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders, said by phone that ethnic profiling was widespread. The rights group published a report on the issue in 2017, showing that people were being stopped, questioned and controlled.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Christina Anderson