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Monday, July 15, 2024

Violence declines, but not for all

Police are crediting a decline in random street violence in Oslo this month on a concerted effort by themselves and the public to battle it. One woman from Congo, however, was still the target of an ugly racist attack in the midst of holiday and Nobel Peace Prize celebrations.

The holiday-decorated streets of Oslo can be mean indeed. PHOTO: Views and News

Jessica Kiil, a mother of three and active participant in local community debate, had been celebrating her own birthday with two friends on Saturday night, just as two other women from Africa were among those being hailed for winning the Peace Prize earlier in the day.

“We talked about all kinds of things, but also about how fantastic and inspiring it was that two of three Peace Prize winners are Africans,” Kiil told newspaper Aftenposten on Monday.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) had reported on its national nightly newscast the evening before, though, that as Kiil walked near the Grand Hotel where the Peace Prize banquet was held, she was confronted by a man and a woman who blocked her path as she headed for a late bus home.

“Get her! Kill her!” shrieked the woman, according to Kiil. “Go back where you came from!” Then she was punched in the stomach and beaten. Passersby reacted, came to her assistance and called for an ambulance that took her to a nearby emergency clinic.

Kiil was knocked unconscious and suffered arm and leg injuries in the assault. The assailants escaped arrest, at least so far. Police were shaken by the latest example of hate crime in Oslo and Kiil was being urged to file a full police report on the incident. One officer told NRK that such assaults are disturbing but not uncommon.

Nor does Kari Helene Partapuoli of Norway’s Antirasistisk Senter (Anti-racism Center) think Kiil’s story is unique. “For many of us it’s difficult to understand that such things can happen in our country,” she told newspaper Aftenposten on Monday. “Police should make hate crimes a priority.”

Incidents of random street violence otherwise are down so far in December, typically a difficult month for police because of holiday parties and excessive drunkenness. Bjørn Åge Hansen of the central police station in Oslo said exact numbers weren’t available yet, but he told Aftenposten that his station has taken in far fewer assault reports this month than in earlier Decembers.

“I have no doubt it’s because of higher awareness of the random rapes we’ve had, and the subsequent increase in police on the streets, civilian patrols, more regulation of bars and nightclubs and other measures,” Hansen said.

Seven reports of assault were reported during the weekend, including one incident where a man’s ear was bitten off by his assailant at a popular concert hall downtown.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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