Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Iceland's reather tame Rodney King Incident

Last week the following clip was the talk of the town in Iceland. We have been experiencing a really rainy summer so people need something to talk about so as not to have to discuss the weather. It is too depressing.

The clip is taken out of a window late night – do not let the daylight fool you – capturing party revelers wander around aimlessly on what is supposed to be a pedestrian street. Along comes a police van – the driver a bit grumpier than most. The van’s procession is halted by a very drunk woman standing in the middle of the street – which as mentioned is pedestrian. And let the games begin.

The errors this cop makes are many. For one instead of waiting for the drunken woman to pass the van, which she eventually would have, he sort of knocks the van’s mirror into her. This appears to be done on purpose. Being drunk this annoys the lady and she turns to argue or stare down the driver, probably the latter since she appears a bit too drunk to qualify as any kind of orator. Now the cop adds insult to injury by using the door to push her out of the way.

Now the lady makes a mistake – a seemingly unbalanced cop that has shown a willingness to hit you with his car = leave. But she does not. Instead she spits on him. Not nice and particularly stupid. But the cop’s reaction to this is way out of line in almost everyone’s agreement here. He jumps out of the car and proceeds to arrest her in a particularly heavy handed way, in particular considering the difference in size and strength as well as the pretty unfortunate fact that this is part of the job. It sure beats being shot at as is the case in many other countries.

Now the worst part. Namely, the reaction to the whole debacle by the Icelandic police association. Instead of saying something about stress and fatigue or whatever would have sounded normal, they turn around and say that there is nothing wrong with the way the woman was handled. If anything it is a good example of how to do it as this is the style of arrest they teach in the police academy. They learned it in Norway according to the announcement. Apparently this is the Norwegian arresting method. No one from Norway has stepped forward to contradict this or support the statement. The conclusion of the police which followed was that the bench is to blame – it was unfortunately placed for arresting purposes. Not exactly Sherlock Holmesian type deduction now is it?

There was also an attempt at mustering up some sympathy by saying the man could have become infected from the spitting and that he was worried he might have contacted a serious disease. This was squashed by a doctor at the emergency ward saying that on one ever had been infected with anything from spitting in Iceland. Nice try though.

The policeman was eventually sent on leave – paid leave – when it came to light that he had been given two prior warnings regarding his behavior. One of the warnings related to an incident where his girlfriend was arrested for drunk driving and he tried to interfere and the other something to do with his temper.

Most policemen in Iceland are great people. It is too bad that they do not distance themselves from the black sheep in their midst. This being said, I am not really in a position to judge this particular guy aside from what one sees in the clip – maybe he was tired or having a horrible day. It happens to most of us. However, I have never seen anyone dragging a coworker across the floor or running into them on purpose in the car park at work. But then again spitting on people is a non-occurrence there as well.

The police would have been better off by saying they took this seriously and would provide the guy with counseling or something to that effect. Then their recent bid for getting tasers would not have been electrocuted by the public and the media. Talk about bad timing.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. Nobody would have noticed such mild police behavior here in the States.

  2. In Mykonos we have the drunks, but are spared such scenes of police overreaction because there are no police to react.

  3. Hi Stan and Jeff - the US and the Greek police situations seem like two extreme ends with Iceland in the middle somewhere. Ours don't have guns so no one is shot, and now their taser bid has gone out the window so we won't have any unfortunate heart attacks either. Any more than we will get sun this summer.