Main | Wednesday, July 07, 2010

FINLAND: Three Men Arrested In Pepper Spray Attack On Helsinki Pride

Three men have been arrested and charged with a hate crime for unleashing pepper spray and smoke bombs during Helsinki's pride parade last weekend.
Officers are also looking for three other individuals suspected of participating in the assault. Over 30 people were hit by the spray. No one was seriously injured, however, some of the victims were children. Helsinki police officer Kari Aaltio said that the attack seemed to be meticulously planned. “First the perpetrators released smoke over the parade. Then they went around the block and attacked parade participants with the spray. At least two types of gases were used. The perpetrators were dressed in black.” Police are still looking for several other perpetrators. The suspects come from outside of Helsinki and are Finns. Police are trying to determine if they belong to a larger group.
Finland's President Tarja Halonen denounced the attack.
“This is a very unfortunate situation for those participating in the parade and for Finns. We are accustomed to respecting people's differences, both morally and of course under the law.” “Many countries put on a Pride festival. Finland had a good reputation in the past. Now it’s been delivered a harsh blow. This incident could result in the kind of brand we don't want,” she added. Halonen also expressed concern for the parade’s participants. ”It has taken decades of work for them to believe that we are on the side of human rights, and we value individuals' rights to choose their sexual orientation,” she said.
The assailants were caught on camera by a local television crew as they fled the scene.

(Tipped by JMG reader Roosa)

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