Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture (Clash)

The theme for WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge this week is: Culture.  I choose to showcase these recent photos from a culture clash that took place in Oslo. The gypsies have illegally occupied a building called Borgen in Gamlebyen, Oslo. This building is going to be demolished because it’s in the way of a new train route. The owner of the building is the Norwegian State Railways and they needed help from the police to empty the building of its illegal occupants.

After being evicted the gypsies set up tents in the park «Middelalderparken» as a protest. Since it’s illegal to set up tents in parks, the police returned later that evening to evict the gypsies from the park. According to the gypsies spokesperson, Mihai Negrea, the gypsies have nowhere to go. Some Norwegian supporters from a left-wing group called «Folk er folk» (People are people) also showed up and shouted slogans such as “People are people” and “this is Norway 2013”. «Folk er folk» thinks that it’s the tax payers responsibility to pay for and accomodate the gypsies.

The gypsies culture of travelling, begging and busking is clashing with the modern culture of Norway, where people live in apartments, pay rent and work. The spokesperson, Mr. Negrea, said that the gypsies in this protest are willing to pay rent for a place to live so that they can be integrated into Norwegian society, but that the problem is that no one wants them around.

The police statements about crime and gypsies are about the gypsies as a group and not necessarily about the individuals in these photos: According to the police and other sources, many gypsies are thieves and criminals and they’re being criticized for pickpocketing, burglaries, littering and trafficking of drugs and humans (I don’t know how the gypsies on these photos make their living, but I’ve seen at least a couple of them beg on the streets downtown, but begging isn’t illegal in Norway.)

The local authorities have no solution for the gypsies, the government don’t know what to do, the police are being forced to chase them from place to place. This evening around 40 police officers came to evict the gypsies from the park. Already the gypsies are costing the tax payers lots of money. Last summer 2000 gypsies were sleeping in cars, vacant buildings and public parks in Oslo and this summer it is expected that the number of gypsies will reach an all time high.


34 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture (Clash)

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture | Jinan Daily Photo

  2. Anarchy!!! Thank you for showing us this CG, both in photos and videos. It was very interesting to see. Their spokesperson looks like a fairly educated person, and is even dressed well. Here we have some gypsies too, many of them integrated into society with jobs and honest living. When I worked as a teacher I had two gypsy students.. they were cute and well-behaved 🙂

    • I have no doubts that some gypsies are doing well, but the problem here in Norway is that the gypsies come here on tourist visas without the necessary means to support themselves. Most of them come to beg or busk, some of them are trying to get jobs, while others are involved in criminal activity. The Norwegian left-wingers and media claim that these people are our responsibility and that we should accomodate them properly and make sure that they have food, clean water and a place to stay while they’re here.

      Now, why should I, as a taxpayer, pay for someone that voluntarily leaves his/her home and arrives at my doorstep? Why should this be the responsibility of the public?

      • I am more inclined to the left than to the right (in general though I cannot say this for our current political situation). Gypsy new-comers should in no way be your responsibility.. Anyway, they are nomads, if they don’t like it, they should move on….

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  5. Norway seems an odd landing spot for a group of people who are nomadic by nature – one would think they would prefer a country a little warmer and easier to survive in, closer to their point of origin… Gypsies have a bad rep pretty much everywhere and unfortunately, and in a lot of cases, insist on perpetuating it. As much as i believe in civil and human rights, i also have a hard time swallowing the demands for (and footing the bill for) a free handout from Nike-wearing transients who have no intention of becoming productive members of society. If it is just a matter of having a place to “live”, why aren’t they interested in going to less populated, rural areas where they could set up their camps as they pleased? Even if one chooses to exist on the fringe or be marginal in one’s presence in any community, you still have to be doing something, anything, that contributes to the betterment/culture/existence of those around you… This whole issue with the gypsies has been going on for hundreds of years and doesn’t look as if it will ever come to a compromise….

    • They already have a place to live in Romania. Norway is also throwing money at the Romanian authorities to help them where they live, but it’s not doing any good (except for maybe some corrupt politicians in Romania that benefits from it?).
      Last summer Oslo was invaded by gypsies that set up camps all over the city (I’ve posted a link to some videos in a reply to TMSO).

      In Norway the authorities will take their children into custody if they use them for begging and stealing, so they don’t bring their children here like they do in the U.K. There’s a BBC documentary about it online.

      • Great link – even 30 years ago in Paris there were children all over the streets begging… something has to change, perhaps a subject for the EU and the Hague…

  6. The same thing is now happening in Helsinki. I agree that they do have the right to come over here, it’s EU, they have the same rights as I do when it comes to moving countries. And I don’t even mind they inhabit abandoned buildings. But I do mind the begging. Just recently it was on the news that there’s organized people behind the begging which I assume meant organized crime. But what’s the solution? If they really are in need of protection, treat them same as any asylum seeker? Yes, it does take tax money but everything does. It’s not the greatest solution but it’s a decision and even if it turns out to be a mistake, the mistake can be correct. Letting the issue drag, usually makes it bigger and even harder to solve. Oh, and more expensive.

    BTW. I’m giving mad props for the doctors who opened a free clinic for illegal aliens. They saw a problem and gave it a solution.

  7. Very good post. In Santa Rosa, California, where I live, we have a homeless problem. Not necessarily an ethnic group, but they have become a community on their own and we have very similar issues (though not as prominent). It would be interesting to see how Norway addresses this problem to the mutual benefit to all. If you all can do that, maybe we (here in California) can learn to do the same.

    • Norway is throwing some money at the Romanian authorities, but it doesn’t help anything. Here are some more videos about gypsies in Oslo filmed by other people:

      • It is a tough situation. I wish I had some answers. Does anyone know of any country that has dealt with squatters successfully?

  8. Very punchy and atmospheric piece of photojournalism, Cardinal. Really great. The problem’s a thorny one – makes you ask all kinds of questions about society and culture, so a perfect response to the challenge.

  9. Pingback: Here & Abroad

  10. Very interesting. We have a homeless population in Canada, and in the cold winters many suffer living on the streets. There are shelters they can find refuge in, but not enough. Are Gypsies different from homeless people?

  11. This is hard situation, it would be difficult to say what is right here, even if I was a local and more in tune with all the issues. I like your gallery though, I think it tells this part of the story well.

  12. This is one of the suggested solutions here in the USA and who do you think foots the bill? The tax payer of course! Wouldn’t it be nice to be handed a home? I do not agree with this methodology and agree that they should be physically moved way out to the country as many times as it takes to make them move on. Where will they end up is the next question? Another town or country? There is no clear way except to herd them once again at the cost of the taxpayers. Even jail time still costs us. Your BBC documentary really brought it home for me Cardinal.

    Moving Forward in the USA
    The State of Homelessness 2013 identifies a number of challenges and opportunities in the efforts to prevent and end homelessness in the United States. Scant decreases in the overall size of the homeless population and the rate of homelessness between 2011 and 2012 remind us that there is still a great deal of work to be done. However, the decreases in chronic and veteran homelessness indicate that, with federal, state, and local investment in strategies proven to end homelessness, progress can be made. The ongoing and increased development of permanent supportive housing, a proven solution to ending homelessness for people with disabilities, is bringing down chronic and veteran homelessness numbers in communities across the country.

    Emphasis needs to be placed on creating more affordable housing (???????????) and strengthening the safety net to prevent homelessness. Federal assistance that was previously available to fill some of those gaps—through the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP)—has been depleted and not replaced. Still, rapid re-housing works: communities have been able to decrease the amount of time households spend homeless and increase the number of households they serve.

    Federal investment in rapid re-housing is increasing, but it is still not sufficient to address all of the need. During Fiscal Year 2013, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs made $300 million available for community-based grants for homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing through the Supportive Services for Veterans Families(SSVF) program. The Administration also published a memo to states urging them to consider using Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) assistance to help families gain and maintain housing stability. The new Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program does provide flexible resources for communities to rapidly re-house households, but it has not been fully funded.

    Finally, efforts to improve data quality and ongoing assessment of need and planning for interventions need to continue. Efforts include developing consistent and better methodologies for conducting the annual point-in-time counts of homeless persons. In addition, the HUD requirement that youth be included in the point-in-time counts will provide much needed information on an overlooked homeless subpopulation and provide a more comprehensive view of homelessness in the United States.

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