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Caught In The Act

Caught In The Act

It’s a familiar scene in Vienna: Officers of the so-called foreigners’ police (Fremdenpolizei) take action against asylum seekers or illegal refugees, while anti-deportation activists stand by documenting the procedure on hand-held cameras. The police don’t like it, but what can they do? Plenty, it seems. In a dramatic recent case involving a family with a […]

Your Friend and Helper?

Vienna’s police have a dismal record of racism, and the courts aren’t doing much to change it. Yet, there are signs of change.

An Abridged History of Violence: Notable Cases of Abuse by the Austrian Police

May 1999 Markus Omofuma The 25-year-old Nigerian suffocates after being bound and gagged by Austrian immigration police on a deportation flight to Sofia, Bulgaria, a procedure that investigations later reveal was common. The three police officers responsible receive suspended sentences for causing death through negligence. They are allowed to continue in service. April/May 2000 Richard […]

Look Into the Camera!

Imagine you are sitting on the U-Bahn in Vienna. It’s lunchtime and there are not too many people on the train. Two cyclists are having a loud chat, talking about the Tour de France and not noticing that their bikes are blocking the way. They don’t even see the elderly woman hovering nearby, complaining. You […]

“It’s Supposed to be About Safety, Not Fear.”

On the afternoon of Feb. 11 2009, two men jumped at black U.S. citizen Mike Brennan as he exited a subway train at Vienna’s Spittelau station. The men pinned Brennan to the floor, he says, punching and kicking him as they held him to the concrete. The two men turned out to be plain clothes […]

Brennan Update

“When the actual day comes around, I’ll be staring at my watch,” says Brennan with unease, referring to the upcoming anniversary. “It’s not the kind of thing you forget overnight.” On Feb. 11 last year, at around 2:30 in the afternoon, two men Brennan had never seen before bundled him to the ground without warning, he […]

Amnesty International: Racism and Austrian Justice

Amnesty International: Racism and Austrian Justice

Looking different, sounding different and coming from somewhere else often make you suspect in Vienna, according to a damning new report by the human rights watchdog Amnesty International (A.I.) released Apr. 9. “Institutional racism is permeating the Austrian police force and other parts of the country’s criminal justice system,” the report said. The organization is […]

Reactions to Police Brutality

Reactions to Police Brutality

As a reaction to the alleged assault by police officers against African-American schoolteacher Mike Brennan nearly two months ago, Austrians and their Expat-colleagues have responded with a clear voice. These calls include a number of strong letters and petitions that have been sent to the Interior Ministry, both from the Vienna International School as well […]

History of Abuse

History of Abuse

The events at Spittelau underground station on Feb. 11, coupled with Mike Brennan’s profile as a U.S. citizen and teacher at the Vienna International School, have led many to hear for the first time the fears felt by Vienna’s black community – the fear of victimisation on the basis of skin colour, of finding oneself […]

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