Statement of support: Dr. Ida Nafstad and Dr. Amin Parsa

Authors: Dr. Victoria Canning, Dr. Daniel Jiménez Franco and Dr.Katja Simončič, co-ordinators of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control

On 18th July, Morgan Johansson, the Swedish Minister for Justice used his political platform and following on Twitter to deride researched claims regarding racism and racialised technologies being used by Malmö Police. The article, written by a member and former co-ordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control Dr. Ida Nafstad and Dr. Amin Parsa, was published in Sydsvenskan. In brief, the article argues that Operation Rimfrost – a police response to shootings and bombing in Malmö – focuses on racialised groups and overlooks wider contributing factors regarding such violence. As the article argues, following from many other scholars in this area as the Black Lives Matter movement has grown in capacity globally, the authors open the debate of defunding the police. They draw on well documented evidence that suggests disproportionate use of drone surveillance and other technologies is detrimental to both the rights of ethnic minority groups, and to women.

In response, Mr. Johansson declared it ‘this year’s most detached from reality debate article’. This claim – made publicly to his 38, 200 Twitter followers – and his responses has subsequently facilitated a significant amount of xenophobic, sexist and racist comments in response, many of which (at the time of writing) have not been addressed or deleted by the Minister for Justice. Importantly, the public nature of this response has led to multiple verbal attacks on the authors.

Moreover, a number of tweets in response suggest that Dr. Nafstad is affiliated with an ‘extremist’ or ‘terrorist’ group. As the co-ordinators of said group, we wish to set straight this libellous claim. This was exacerbated by responses from the Police Chrief Erik Nord which derided the value of activist academia. To clarify, the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control (EG) is an international network for academics, practitioners, and activists working towards social justice, state accountability and decarceration. It is an open forum promoting critical analysis and connecting theory, politics and activism. Since the Group was founded in Florence, Italy, in 1973, it has grown to comprise over 1000 members stretching across six different continents, making the Group the largest critical criminology forum in the world.It is a non-violent organisation, and such claims raise serious questions about the state of democratic values and rights.

The co-ordinators of the group support the position of the authors. We point out that the responses on public media are almost exclusively constructed by white men, and note that the evidence presented in the article does indicate that some level of racism is institutionalised – which seems to be being corroborated by the public replies which therein are being exacerbated by leading political and police figures. The gravity and amount of verbal abuse the authors have received has increased in correlation with the undermining by these public figures regarding their researched work.

We call on the Minister for Justice to take seriously the claims put forward by the authors of the article regarding racism;to consider the implications of the Minister’s public correspondence; and consider an independent investigation into racialised policing practices.

With best wishes,

Dr. Victoria Canning, Dr. Daniel Jiménez Franco and Dr. Katja Simončič

Co-ordinators of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control