The Hague, Netherlands (TFC) – It’s an all too familiar story. An unarmed man is subdued and taken into custody for charges nobody can explain. He is thrown into the back of a police van. He dies. Nobody can explain why. This isn’t the story of Freddie Gray. Well… it is, but it’s also the story of 42-year-old Mitch Henriquez.
The prosecutor claims he told police he was armed and then resisted arrest, so five officers beat him until he was unconscious. He wasn’t armed. We still don’t know exactly why police began interacting with him to begin with, and the autopsy reveal that he died from a lack of oxygen. The autopsy also confirmed he wasn’t on drugs or intoxicated. Apparently, the officers had claimed he was fine and became ill inside the van. Then, the videos surfaced.
Witnesses say that prior to being attacked by officers, he was laughing and telling jokes to his friends.
This is becoming an everyday occurrence. Now for the twist: This didn’t happen in the United States. It happened in the Netherlands. According to an Anti-Fascist group operating there, The Hague police unit has long been discredited because of racially-motivated violence. Henriquez was a tourist from Aruba.
Protests have occurred, but the string of bodies in Western Europe isn’t quite long enough yet for anyone to demand any meaningful change. Just as in the United States, the officers were suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation. They are being treated as suspects and the prosecutor has publicly stated that he was most likely killed by a lack of oxygen that was probably the result of the police action.
The thin blue line exists internationally. Mimicking statements that would be heard in the United States, police chief Paul van Musscher told reporters that he was “shocked” but that he believed the officers acted with the best of intentions even though something went horribly wrong.
The enforcement class is the same no matter where you go apparently.