DutchAmsterdam.nl — One man has died and three others were injured, two severely, when they jumped or fell from high-rise balconies in an effort to escape police raids on their apartments.
The incidents occurred when Amsterdam police raided three homes in the Bijlmermeer district, in the Amsterdam Zuidoost (South-East) borough. Four men tried to avoid arrest by climbing over the balconies behind their apartments. In doing so, one man fell to his death from the ninth floor. Three others are said to have jumped or fallen from fifth-floor balconies.
Amsterdam Police say the men may have thought they could reach a lower floor.
During the raids, police found large quantities of hard drugs.
Twelve people were arrested, the injured men included, on suspicion of being involved in trading drugs.
Local residents rioted in protest at the death and injuries, blaming police for the chain of events. They accuse police of racism. That the man were trading in hard drugs makes no different to them.
“The humiliations are too much,” says Chris Nwangwu, leader of the Ibo-Nigerians in Zuidoost. “We do not know who the dead man is, but whether he is from Ghana, Nigeria or Suriname makes no different. All blacks are angry.”
In 2007 a man from Ghana died in a similar incident, and in January 2008 another man jumped or fell from a third story apartment.
Nwangu claims police simply do not care about the death and injuries. “Why do to raid apartments that way in high-rise buildings? They know the risk. But yes, this is a black neighborhood, so that doesn’t count.”
Fellow Nigerian Henry Oudyenyi, editor of the Nigerian magazine The Voice, agrees. “They should choose for another approach. Now they deliberately take the risk that people jump. You can not treat someone like an animal simply because he may be a criminal. What they think is this: If they die nothing is lost.”
The Bijlmermeer district is home to mostly low-income families, a majority of them immigrants from the former Dutch colony of Suriname, and from a number of African countries. The Bijlmer, as it is known colloquially, also houses many illegal immigrants.
The area, notorious for its high crime rate, also has a high concentration of drug dealers and other criminals, including people involved in a worldwide scam known as the Nigerian 419 fraud.
The Bijlmer’s design, with long rows of impersonal high-rise buildings was thought by social engineers to contribute to the neighborhood’s problems. In recent years a refurbishing project has been underway in which many of those high-rise buildings have made way for lower, single-family homes in the hopes of attracting more middle- and high-income residents.
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