The Helsinki railway station is quiet and cloudy on Monday noon. In front of the station, dozens of funeral candles form a pool of light around a street lamp. About 15 people are observing the candles. A woman wearing sunglasses is weeping.
She kneels, holding a white rose in her hands. Among the candles, there are dozens of cards expressing condolences. A skateboard lays sideways in the middle. An old, dirty Adidas jacket covers the corner. The woman lays down the rose.
She introduces herself as Daniye, 28, from Järvenpää, a small town located near, north of Helsinki. “I hope this will send the message across,” Daniye says while looking at the pool of light. “So that this doesn’t happen ever again.”
The candles were illuminated on Sunday evening for the memory of Jimi Karttunen, 28, a young man, who was assaulted during a demonstration by Suomen Vastarintaliike SVL (Finnish Resistance Movement), a Finnish branch of the Nordic neo-Nazi organization. He died after being released from the hospital.
The assault happened a week ago, on Saturday, September 10th. Jimi had walked by a demonstration and recognized the neo-Nazi flag. According to his father, his son went and said to the protesters who were spreading fliers “what he thinks of their ideology.” Jimi spat in front of a neo-Nazi, who was carrying the flag of the Finnish Resistance Movement, and continued his way towards the railway station.
Suddenly, the suspected man, a member of SVL, started running after Jimi. He kicked Jimi in the chest and he fell head first into the street. Jimi lost his consciousness and was transported to Töölö hospital in Helsinki. He was released from the hospital on Thursday with the back of his head covered in stitches. He had no memory of what had happened to him. His friends, who witnessed the assault, explained the course of the events to his father.
On Friday, September 16th, Jimi was not feeling well in his home. What he didn’t know was that he was suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage; he was bleeding in the brain. He dialed the emergency number, 112. He was found unconsciously lying on the floor and was taken to Meilahti hospital. His father visited the hospital and saw his son laying in the hospital bed while attached to a breathing machine.
At 22:00, Jimi died.
The police detained the suspected assaulter, born in 1990, on Saturday night. He has a long criminal record (assaults, resisting an officer, carrying a dangerous object etc.). He is charged on a suspicion of an assault and aggravated involuntary manslaughter.
There has been plenty of speculation in social media of why there weren’t any police officers in sight observing the demonstration. Police presence could have, after all, stopped the assault from happening.
According to Juha Hakola, a superintended at Helsinki Police Department, the notification of the protest (which is required by law) didn’t correspond the true nature of the protest. Police received the notification on the night before the event would take place. According to the notification, a few activists were to spread fliers at Elielinaukio. The notification did not mention that the Finnish Resistance Movement was the organization behind the event. “The event was not according to the notification to be interpreted as a demonstration. That’s why the police didn’t arrive at the scene,” Hakola said in an interview for the Finnish News Agency STT. Several protests were arranged across Helsinki during the weekend of SVL demonstration and the police didn’t have the resources to put into observing the “spreading of the flyers.”
Finnish Resistance Movement has several violent crimes in their record (gas attacks to Pride march, assaults on left-wing politicians etc.). They even released a video of Jimi, clad in a black hoodie, white pants and sneakers, lying in a pool of blood. On their web page, the organization described the incident as a “crackdown.”
The agenda of the head organization, The Nordic Resistance Movement, is to unite the Nordic countries into the National Socialistic Republic, where the Baltic countries would be more than welcome to join. According to the former leader of SVL, Esa Holappa, the organization has 60-70 members in Finland. The amount has doubled in the past few years.
A friend of Jimi said that Jimi liked to write scripts and poetry. He had strong options and was not afraid to say them out loud. He cared about human rights. “It somehow feels like, if Jimi had to go, it had to happen like this,” he said. “Telling to the Nazis, what he thinks about the Nazis.”