NORWAY: After arrests, the Soldiers of Odin is forced to drag the police to court to make them interpret the law the way they should, or the group is practically banned.
Three members, two men and a woman, of the group "Soldiers of Odin - Østfold" were stopped by police as they tried to patrol the streets in the center of Fredrikstad on Friday night.
The police asked them to take off their uniform, a black hoodie with a logo on the back. The woman did as she was told, but the two men refused. When the two men would not leave the city center, wearing similar hoodies, they were put into custody for a few hours before being released.
Leader of Soldiers of Odin - Østfold, Richard Eide, says to NRK that they just walked around to observe when police arrived.
- We offer some of the same as the Night Watchers, but it is a bit more extensive. We are there for everyone, not just those under 18 years of age. We offer a passive security which should be preventative by being present, he explains.
Attorney Linda Ellefsen Eide of the law firm Elden represents the members of Soldiers of Odin. She is on holiday abroad and therefore does not know the details of what happened on Friday night yet, but says the Soldiers of Odin is not breaking any laws.
- We must look into the matter of what is done in relation to fines. What the Soldiers of Odin does is not contravention of the Police Act, she says.
- This is about the protection of people and there is an exception in relation to the provisions surrounding vigilantes. We perceive this as legitimate and has given advice to the "Soldiers of Odin" that this they can actually do.
She also says that police can not decide what people should wear.
- A group of people in uniform must be allowed, regardless of what they represent. The Night Watchers do the same, and it's just a different kind of uniform they are wearing, she says.
- Police will use the section's first paragraph until the courts say no, says Acting police chief in Fredrikstad, Ivar Prestbakken.
- Until this gets a judicial decision, in the District Court or higher courts, we will use the interpretation we have put on it. Proven to be wrong, the police will of course abide by it.
- Does it mean that the next time the "Soldiers of Odin" are seen in Fredrikstad, police will again ask them to leave?
- Yes, then we will do exactly the same again.
To be filmed
- We are going to continue, says Richard Eide of Soldiers of Odin.
- That the police act in this way they can just continue to do. According to our lawyer it is an offense. So if they will give us more such incidents we can film, they may gladly do so. We have tried to contact the police for a dialogue, but they will not talk to us, he says.
Eide said that they only intervene if someone is injured.
- There is something called civic duty. If someone is lying on the ground and bleeding, we help and call an ambulance. We do not just stand there and look on, he says.
He says they do not go between people fighting.
- No, but we film it, and we are preventive since we are so many people out walking. And we can talk to people. But we must assess situations different. It could be we must intervene and remove a person who is beating up someone.
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