Racism at the border, or not so Schengen after all

The train just had its stop in Bad Bentheim entering Germany. At that stop we usually get a short break, a new locomotive and the German border police checking the train. Border police? Didn’t the Schengen Agreement abolish checks at the signing countries’ borders?

It did, but these informal spot checks are still being held by some countries. Even worse, they are not random by any degree. The German Bundespolizei deliberately checks those with a dark skin and hardly any others. Normally such an observation could be attributed to me being cynical. Here it unfortunately cannot.

It is a practice being supported up until the administrative court of Koblenz where a case relating to this policy came to trial recently. The judge maintained the obligation of the police to use ‘situational insight’ and ‘relevant border police experience’ (‘entsprechende “Lageerkenntnisse” und “einschlägige grenzpolizeiliche Erfahrung” zugrunde zu legen’). Lawblog.de writes it up with the obvious title “Der Neger ist verdächtig” and the post has over four hundred comments.

I didn’t get checked this time but sometimes they do check my passport. It probably depends on how foreign I happen to look on a specific day or if I have shaven recently. I can shrug it off easily as probably most people can who don’t deal with racism on a day to day basis. But when I see a black family of four traveling and being checked as the only ones in the compartment, I wonder what kind of an impression that gives their children about the justness of the society they are growing up into.

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