Rotterdam police criticized for taking jacket from homeless man

Jacket taken from a homeless man by the Rotterdam police, 3 Jan 2017
Jacket taken from a homeless man by the Rotterdam police, 3 Jan 2017. (Photo: @politieRdam_C / Twitter)

The Rotterdam police confiscated a jacket from a homeless person, because the jacket had the logo of a security company on it. A police officer posted a photo of the jacket on Twitter, leading to outraged reactions on the social media platform and from local politicians.

Early this week officers were escorting seven homeless people out of a car park where they were sleeping. One officer noticed the logo on the jacket. "Confiscated and returned to the security company", a police officer tweeted with a photo of the jacket.

This led to outrage on Twitter. "What a coward!", one repsonder tweeted. "If I were the corps chief, I'd let you spend a night jacket-less on the street", said another. And: "What a monstrous action... It turns my stomach."

Local politicians also objected to the police's actions. "I find it absurd nd inhumane to strip someone without a home of his jacket while it's freezing outside", GroenLinks city councilor Arno Bonte said to RTL Nieuws. "And then to tweet about it! In addition, the coat looked old, so the homeless man probably got it through the Salvation Army. The police should stand up for vulnerable people. Enough is enough. This is not the first anti-homeless action by the Rotterdam police."

With that Bonte was referring to another officer who tweeted a clear picture of a homeless man in December with the text: "Wanderers cause significant problems in the city." The police apologized for this tweet. 

According to the Rotterdam police, only certified security agents are allowed to wear clothing with security logos on it. "With other uses, confiscation follows", a spokesperson said to the broadcaster. 

Bonte finds this reasoning "very weak, and actually unworthy of the police", Bonte said to RTV Rijnmond. He is demanding a city council debate on the matter.