You may recall that last year on New Year’s Eve there were a shocking number of sexual assaults carried out around Germany, especially in the city of Cologne, by men described as being of North African descent. Though police initially reported all was well the next morning, the number of reports of sexual assault climbed, eventually reaching 1,200 incidents. Some of the incidents involved petty theft but one women told a German television station about a week later, “They all looked at us like we were free meat at the supermarket, fair game, checking to see if it’s still fresh.”
Given what took place last year, police were determined that there would not be a repeat this year. The police say their efforts were a success but a leader for the Green Party has accused them of racial profiling. From Politico Europe:
According to the city’s police chief Jürgen Mathies, several hundred young men, 98 percent of whom were of North African origin, gathered at two main train stations. Many exhibited signs of aggressive behavior and were dispersed, authorities said.
While that likely helped curb violence and assaults on New Year’s Eve, Green Party leader Simone Peter told Rheinische Post that it raised serious legal questions.
Adding to the accusation of racial profiling was the fact that police put out messages on social media saying police had screened “hundreds of Nafris,” a colloquial term for North African men.
— Polizei NRW K (@polizei_nrw_k) December 31, 2016
However the police chief says the men were not stopped solely because of their appearance but also because of their behavior, which he described as aggressive. From the Telegraph:
Juergen Mathis, Cologne police chief, rejected accusations that his officers had conducted “racial profiling”, arguing that many of the men detained had acted in an “aggressive” manner.
“I reject such criticism,” he told a press conference. “The clear aim was to prevent similar events to those of last year.”
It’s an interesting problem for police. They know, based on their investigations and the reports from hundreds of women who were assaulted last New Years Eve, who was responsible for the majority of attacks, i.e. bands of rowdy North African men. So this year police focused their efforts to prevent a repeat occurrence on bands of rowdy North African men. But in so doing, the police left themselves open to charges of racial profiling from the political left. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
This year’s crackdown seems to have worked. Only 100 people were arrested and only about two dozen cases of sexual assault were reported. That’s a tiny fraction of the number of assaults reported last year.