"The minute you start profiling based on ethnicity, you start focusing on a certain population, which means that these young people are checked all the time, and are stopped on the street, whether there’s a reason or not; this just creates aversion to the work the police do...They deserve some support and to really feel like they are understood and entitled to a place in society." - Arjan Kasius, 50, police inspector, Gouda, Netherlands.
"The reason why I give them a hard time about showing my ID is because it happens so often...I actually don’t feel like the police are protecting me. I’m not really sure. If I had a problem, would I go to the police? I don’t know." - Anass, 18, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
"I feel more than offended. [The police] just don’t treat me with any respect...they should treat all people with respect, and not just the young people who are Dutch. They shouldn’t make a distinction. Every person should be treated the same way." - Ismael, 18, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
"The last time I was asked to show my ID card, I was alone. When I asked, 'Why do I have to show you my ID card?' he said, 'You’re at an unusual place at an unusual time'... I was thinking, this makes no sense. He sees me jogging, I am wearing sweat pants and a zipper hoodie and my sneakers. He can see that I’m jogging; I have earphones in. I don’t think that’s unusual. I’m just jogging." - Anass, 17, Gouda, Netherlands.
"During the checks, what do I think about?...People start staring at you [thinking], 'What is Adil doing with the police?' I’m not scared, it’s more I just feel frustrated...I am just me, and I just want to be accepted for who I am. I’m not a bad guy; I’m not someone who hangs around, looking for trouble." - Adil, 24, Gouda, Netherlands.
"I was stopped once for no reason...It had this really weird effect on me, like, can they really do that? To be honest, I don’t think it’s right. I asked [one of the officers], 'Why do you have to do that?' and he said, 'We keep seeing you everywhere where you’re not supposed to be.' Then I said, 'Can’t I walk anywhere I want? Why did you have to act like that? Why do you have to yell at me and insult me?'" - Moussa, 17, Gouda, Netherlands.
"I think that the media and some policemen create a negative image of foreigners...I get the feeling that the police are paying more attention to what I do than what other people are doing to me; that they’re not protecting me...I learned from my mother that you have to accept everyone for who they are, and you must accept and respect others and especially yourself." - Michael, 22, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
"I experience [ID checks] as discrimination. I felt like it was an attack on my rights as a citizen...How can I express my joy, how can I show my lust for life, all the beautiful things about me, if I’m actually going to feel threatened by the situation? Why should I have to prove that I deserve to be treated right? I should just be treated right. " - Prasand, 39, Technical Administrator, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
"I have been with the police for 22 years now...and still I see so many things happen all the time that I am like, 'Huh? That’s just wrong.' We are supposed to act as role models. I love my colleagues, we’re all in this together, that’s my motto. However, I also think that every citizen has the right to justice...The ultimate goal of the police and citizens is to stand together to promote safety and a good quality of life." - Sidney Mutueel, 46, police chief inspector, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
“Last week [my son] was stopped because he was getting his bike from the side access of our home...he had to confirm that this is where he lived. When I think about the police, I feel that they have stripped my son of his soul and of his dreams. That they make him feel worthless. That they make him feel that he's somebody that they can stop and rough up whenever they please and with no explanation…" - Diane Joseph, 46, London, UK.
"The worst stop and search experience I've ever had was, I would say, the last time…I had just gone to see my son. I had been outside for about 45 seconds. [A] police car pulls up in front of me...Next thing I know they're saying I'm resisting arrest. I got pepper sprayed, mace or whatever you want to call it...I've been stopped and searched countless times…And, it's kind of sad it continued on to the age I am now." - Anthony Redman Thomas, 32, editor, London, UK.
"The relationship between the police and my community is a very tense one...When you're talking to young people who are telling you that they've been stopped and searched three times in the same day, then that's bound to just mess up their psyche in many respects. You're criminalizing people who are already in an environment [where it’s] extremely easy to slip into crime anyway. You don't want to exactly give them a motive to engage in crime." - Kwabena Samuel Oduro-Ayim, 25, London, UK.
"Constant stop and searches for no reason [have] made the public feel that we are actually under oppression...[people] felt that the police were this Babylon system, just hell-bent on trying to bring down their family, bring down their way of life, or kill their gene." - Cordel Robinson, 21, London, UK.
"When I've been stopped, I've been with people, and I've been singled out. And that kind of embarrassment that you feel around your peers, let's say, it's like a bell you can't un-ring...[My son] came home to me and tried to get me to explain to him why this was, ‘so I can be stopped because I look a certain way?’…I said, ‘Yeah,’ and he said to me, ‘Well, how can that be right? Does that happen to everyone, Dad?’ And I said, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘It doesn't happen to white people, does it?’ I said, ‘Not as much.'" - Paul Mortimer, retired football player, Penge, UK.
"I've been stopped and searched since I was 22, [in excess of] 35 times. It’s like any bully who drives around an area or walks around an area, kind of pushing his weight around. And in a way, the police [can] behave like this, as police randomly will start following you in a car. Or will start randomly viewing you in a certain way or just kind of sitting there and watching you." - Rizwaan Sabir, 26, Manchester, UK.
"I've got a choice of what bank I go to. I've got choice of what pub I go in, but I haven't got a choice of which police officers deal with me...If I'm being stopped by the police, everybody walking past, driving past thinks I'm a criminal. They think I have done something wrong. And [the police] don't get the fact that I might be embarrassed by that." - Nick Glynn, police officer, Leicester, UK.
"If it's normal for our young people…to have an invasion of their rights, to be stopped and searched when they've done nothing wrong, if that's normalized, then what kind of a state are we living in?...[Stop and search] can actually have the opposite effect. It can make criminals out of people who weren't criminals in the first place.” - Karen Chouhan, mother, Leicester, UK.
"As I came out [of the underground], a police officer came to me and said, ‘Excuse me, sir, we need to search you.’ I said, ‘Search me, for what? What have I done? Is there any reason?’ And they said, ‘Sir, we need to search you, please stand where you are.'…He basically did a full search. And when he finished, he said, ‘Okay, sir…you can leave now.' I said, ‘Well, excuse me, I just need to know what's happening here'...He said, ‘Just move on, sir, we've got other people to, to search.'" - Ashraf Hamalawi, 40, Special Police Constable, Leicester, UK.
"Our youth was stolen from us through the oppression of [police] controls and checks...They check us to tell us to ‘stay in your place.’ I want my son to go around the world. I don’t want him to be locked in his mind because of controls that make him believe that outside his small town there is no life. This is a crazy thing!" - Mourad Agoun, father and elected official, Rhone-Alps, France.
"You feel under surveillance, you feel spied on. You have the feeling that your freedom is in question; like it has limits and that these limits stop with the men in blue who watch us. It breaks something. The police are France and France is the police and so it breaks a link between us and France. The hits with the batons don’t only break bones, they also breaks ties. It breaks our projections of being full citizens, of fully participating in society." - Lyes Kaouah, theater student, Rhone-Alps, France.
"Wherever there are large crowds, you feel people staring at you. You feel guilty even though you are innocent. It is tragic that you feel guilty for being yourself and you ask [yourself], Why was I born Arab? or Why am I black? or Why am I young? Each time I walk by a policeman or am on a trip, I cross my fingers and hope not to be checked." - Youssouf Boubaker, student, Rhone-Alps, France.
"What people do not understand about these abusive controls is that it’s real violence for those who are the targets. The feeling of being treated differently, that’s the first reckoning, the first awareness of a certain discrimination, of some difference, of a certain exclusion. So the influence and importance these police checks can have is very strong. Besides school and parents, they [the police] are the ones representing authority, and the checks can do a lot of damage to the perception young people have of authority." - Issa Coulibaly, head of an NGO, Paris, France.
"It’s humiliating being checked as if you did something wrong when the only thing you did was to be present. You feel that the simple fact of existing is a problem...And when you are used to being checked there is a feeling of anxiety...There is even a feeling of humiliation when you are not checked yourself, but you know someone who is, even then it can cause pain. It’s something very intimate, obviously not comparable to rape, but not far off." - Said Kebbouche, head of NGO, Rhone-Alps, France.
"My first experience with an identity check was when I was in my first year of the law school...I had always said to my close family that my skin color didn’t exist...But that day, I realized that something about me was different. I think that at that moment, my faith as a ‘Dijonese’ citizen, my faith as a French citizen disappeared, evaporated, dissolved." - Achille Ndari, comedian and actor, Paris, France.
"I clearly remember a racial discriminatory identity check that occurred in April 2008 at the beginning of my term in office...I received a card as an elected official, the blue, white and red – standing for freedom, equality and fraternity...And then poof! When you experience this type of check, it’s as if you are continually reminded that due to your face, your skin color, your facial features that you are not really from here. You realize that you belong to the Republic, you live in the Republic, but you aren’t actually a full citizen." - Adji Ahoudian, elected official, Paris, France.
"When you are checked in public, it creates a really unpleasant image. I wonder what the passers-by think – whether they really think that I committed a crime or that I really did something illegal – especially when it occurs in the neighborhood where I work...An example that I find particularly striking is when I walk down the street and I pass someone who shifts their bag to the other side – there is no mystery. I also try not to go to stores on Saturdays as I will likely be followed and checked." - Omer Mas Capitolin, elected official, Paris, France.
"After being checked for the first time, I told myself, 'Well the police, or most policemen, are racist,' so now I do not trust police. I always have the fear of being arrested, being checked, whereas before I didn’t have that feeling...Now when I walk by a police officer, I instantly feel guilty as if I have done something." - Mounir Seydi, business school student, Lille, France.
"I was stopped 100 yards from my house as I was leaving in my car for work. The check lasted half an hour. I told them I would be late for my factory job and the least they could do was write a note to explain my tardiness. They told me, 'Your work can call the police station'...In a factory, when you work 8-hour shifts around the clock, the team needs to rotate and a half hour late is a real problem...Some people were suspicious and said, 'If the cops come to his home checking him like that, he must be doing stuff.' It made me feel ashamed." - Moradel Ruddy, Rhone-Alps, France.
"I can tell you about my first identity check as if it was yesterday – the exact route we took, why we went to the city center and the manner in which the police spoke to us...We are a generation that grew up in war, not a war involving bombs, but one with the police. It’s not normal. We can’t conceive of a future in which we marry, have a house and then have our children checked and go through the same things we have; it’s just not possible. It has to stop or it will lead to conflict." - Adil Kochman, artist and filmmaker, Lille, France.
"Because I work in the social office, I see and talk with young people aged 15-16 years daily about school and all their projects...They get out of school and the police check them and their schoolbags. Since they are very young when the persecution starts, they grow up developing a hatred of the police. I see it all day, every day...I'm scared. I fear for the future of what can happen between my children and the police." - Latifah el-Boukhari, mother, Lille, France.
"It’s a door that stops you from entering French society – a very real door that is shut to us. In the employment sector, when you want to find a job, or housing, it’s the same thing. Those who do not live in our neighborhood don’t understand this harassment, this closed door...[The police] are armed, so this danger exists daily and you are insulted daily." - Hicham Kochman, aka Axiom, artist, author and activist, Paris, France.
"A police force that has the population against it cannot work, it is not possible. Constant checks are counterproductive; we the police, experts, academics, as well as the people who are watching all say it. It has no rhyme nor reason...National Police can only work with the citizens; while a police force that works against the citizens is a world upside down." - Yannick Danio, police officer and Police Union representative, Paris, France.
"I worked with a police organization where we were asked to be in constant contact with citizens and closer to the ground. Finally, we did not need regular identity checks because we knew the population who lived in the neighborhood, and there was a real exchange, a discussion, almost trust...If the population feels that their police force is not at the service of the citizens...the population will not provide information to help its police." - Stephane Lievin, Brigadier Chief of Police and Police Union, Paris, France.