Monday, July 10, 2017

Black Woman Tourist Thrown Down Steps In Amsterdam

People place different values on time and its importance. One person may get very upset if a friend or family member who promised to pick them up from the airport is ten minutes late. Another person may not understand why their boss is seething when they consistently arrive to work two hours after what the manager considers to be an acceptable starting time. Sometimes these differences may be culturally or environmentally based, but even among people who share the exact same cultural and familial background there may be very disparate attitudes towards time. Of course time is money. 

Many people who evince cavalier attitudes towards other people's expectations of punctuality will often take a different viewpoint if their employer or customer decides to pay them late or less than what was agreed. So it goes. Ideally expectations about time and money should be worked out before you enter into a formal contract with someone. Because when there is a disagreement or misunderstanding about time and money more serious unpleasantness can arise. All sorts of prejudices and hatreds can come to the forefront. This shocking footage shows the moment a tourist was brutally pushed down a flight of stairs by an AirBnB landlord who could be facing charges of attempted murder. The push was the culmination of an argument that took place on Saturday afternoon in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam between four tourists who had rented the flat and the landlord.

According to local media, the tourists should have left the house at 11am but at 1pm, they were still not ready to leave. The impatient landlord then became angry at the group and decided to take matters into his own hands. The footage shows the man shouting 'out, out' as he chucks the clothes and suitcases of the women out of the flat and down the stairs. One woman is heard saying 'don't be emotional' as she complains about the landlord chucking her stuff out the flat unceremoniously.

But then the landlord angrily shouts 'out now' and can be seen pushing one of the women, identified as South African woman Siba Nkumbi, down the steep staircase. The woman hits the ground hard and seems to hit the wall and the floor with her face, and then remains motionless. 
The landlord can be heard shouting 'goddammit' in Dutch while one of the women is crying out 'oh my God' multiple times. The video then shows the landlord walking down the stairs and calling for someone to call an ambulance, ostensibly realising to his own horror what he has just done.

We knew we were late,” she said in a video posted to YouTube today, having been discharged from hospital. “We heard the bell ring. The lady was clearly upset... she said this is not acceptable, you need to pack and leave now. I apologised profusely for us being late.”

Nkumbi says she and her companions were in the middle of leaving when the woman returned with her husband, who was visibly angry and, she says, abusive. “I remembered asking, ‘Why are you being so emotional, we are leaving,” she says.

She says that he called them “you people” and said “you are not the queen you think you are… this is not Africa.“Any person of colour that reads this and has witnessed racist attacks you know when it happens to you,” she says. “And the perpetrator always makes sure they say something vague… so they can’t prove anything. “If this had been a white person, I can guarantee you this would have turned out differently.” She says that she resolved to say nothing and was leaving quietly, when the man moved to grab her as she passed him on the stairs. 

She realised he was about to throw her down. “I don’t remember how it happened,” she says. “I woke up in hospital, in pain. And then I got the video of the story. Everyone was freaking out, the police came to question me.” Nkumbi says she sustained a concussion, has a large bump on the back of her head and is bruised across her face and body.

This incident is an excellent example of why no matter how unreasonable you may think someone is being in a civil dispute, a "no-hands" standard is a really a good rule of thumb. The only legitimate use of violence is self-defense. I can understand the frustration that people get when other people impose unnecessary costs of time or money upon them but that's life. If there is really a serious issue call the police and let them handle it. And be more discerning about whom you rent your home to in the future. The guy went from right to wrong by his actions. You wouldn't throw a dog down the stairs, let alone a human being.

It's difficult to imagine that were the races reversed the landlord would have felt quite so free to put hands on the woman. I doubt that she and her friends were the first people ever to check out late. Things running late, for good reasons or bad, is part of business. It's part of life. You can try to minimize it. I certainly do. But you're never going to eliminate it. And assaulting someone who didn't assault you is always wrong. Likely, this incident will be used to justify the racial discrimination which already infests AirBnB. Black tourists may also need to be more discerning about which hosts they decide to live with. Perhaps the Green Book needs to be updated for the 21st century.
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