What’s left out of the YLE story (purposefully), is the actual ethnicity of the two in question. Somali males have a bad rep for causing disturbances in pubs, the regular goers to these Helsinki establishments know this and therefore those who were standing around watching the situation unfold were applauding the bouncer’s decision.

HOK-Elanto bouncer under discrimination investigation

The services conglomerate HOK-Elanto is examining a report that one of their doormen at the Amarillo late-night establishment in Helsinki refused to let customers in on racist grounds. The company says they have a zero-tolerance policy on such behaviour.

Juomia baaritiskillä.
An allegedly racist bouncer faces an investigation. Image: Yle

A doorman at the Helsinki late-night bar Amarillo is under investigation after a claim that he made racist comments and refused entry to two potential customers based on their ethnicity. Passer-by Anu Vihma reported her observation on Friday night to the owner of the bar, HOK-Elanto.

“This bouncer was talking about how the bar has a ‘five-foreigner quota’, and that even that is ‘five too many’ per night,” Vihma says. “Others present cheered him, it was disgusting.”

Vihma’s report to HOK-Elanto included a strong suspicion that the talk of a customer ‘quota’ referred specifically to Amarillo, and a reported observation that two dark-skinned men were standing outside the entrance having been refused entry.

Company: Unacceptable

Industry chief Jouko Heinonen from HOK-Elanto emphatically denies the existence of any such quota. He says the bouncer’s behaviour, if corroborated, is in breach of the company’s values and ethical principles.

“We don’t use any such quota for our customers, no guideline to this effect exists,” Heinonen says. He adds that discrimination of this kind is also against Finnish law.

A full-scale investigation into the alleged misconduct is now underway. The Amarillo doorman services are provided by one of HOK-Elanto’s partners,

“I have contacted their CEO and he told me that none of our staff have issued rules or suggestions of this kind or referred to any form of discrimination in their line of work,” he says. “We’re investigating these serious claims and to whom it may refer. A person who behaves in this way has no place in our company.”

Blow to reputation

Heinonen says that any purported racism was not visible on the night in question as far as Amarillo’s clientele was concerned. Many thousands of international visitors filled Helsinki over the weekend due to the World Gymnaestrada fitness festival.

“The shift manager estimates that there were hundreds of non-Finnish people present that night. Thank goodness that one person’s criteria for entry didn’t affect our patrons. But it’s definitely a blow to the reputation of Amarillo and of our company.”

Anu Vihma says that she is impressed by HOK-Elanto’s swift action in getting to the bottom of the incident.

“They were very apologetic and they insisted that they have  zero-tolerance policy on behaviour such as this,” she says. “I wanted to make this known so that all people could fit in here and to resist prejudice.”

In October 2013, an Yle documentary filmed a bouncer outside the Milliklubi nightclub in central Helsinki turning away two black undercover reporters, before subsequently letting in two white-skinned reporters. The police later recommended that the nightclub be prosecuted on discrimination charges.

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