A DEMONSTRATION against climate change by members of Elokapina (the Finnish Extinction Rebellion Group) in Helsinki was marred by the action of police officers who used what was described a pepper spray to try to disperse those taking part.
They were blocking a busy road but according to those present, there was no threat of violence and it is suggested that the officers would not allow those most badly affected by the spray to wash out their eyes.
The Helsinki Police have responded that the situation did require force in order to ensure that traffic was able to flow freely and the situation did not escalate with angry drivers becoming involved.
The Finnish National Police Board which is responsible for supervising police operations called for a full report on the events and Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo has confirmed that a preliminary account has been submitted to the Ministry of the Interior.
During a press conference, she said “Use of force must always be the last resort, and it must always be well justified. These actions must be evaluated and the guidelines updated, if necessary. It would also be good to always disclose the justification for use of force. The actions of police are ultimately monitored by the parliamentary ombudsman.”
The actions of the Finnish Police contrasted considerably with those of the Norwegian Police who took a much more ‘relaxed’ attitude when the Norwegian Extinction Rebellion Group held a similar demonstration in Oslo recently.