Swiss police investigate KKK carnival costumes

A member of the Ku Klux Klan adjusts his hood during a rally in Jasper, United States, in June 1998 Keystone / David J. Phillip

The Schwyz cantonal police force has interviewed all 12 people who dressed in Ku Klux Klan costumes during local carnival celebrations last week. The case is due to be sent to a local prosecutor when their inquiry is complete.

This content was published on March 10, 2019 - 18:27

The group of 12 people who wore KKK outfits during the Schwyz carnival are local Swiss men, aged 18-30. But they are not registered as known rightwing extremists, the Schwyz police said in a statement on Sunday.External link

Once complete the police will hand over the case to the Attorney General’s Office for Inner Schwyz, it added. 

A video of the incident on March 4 in the town of Brunnen in canton Schwyz, which was reported in Swiss mediaExternal link, showed a group walking along a street dressed in white outfits with KKK written on the chest, pointed hoods and carrying burning torches.

The KKK is a white supremacist group, founded in the US in 1865, which terrorized blacks in the US South and later targeted other minority groups, following the Civil War and the emancipation of African-American slaves. There are thought to still be around 8,000 KKK supporters in the US. The group has reportedly established contacts with rightwing groups overseas.

The Schwyz incident has shocked certain locals and parliamentarians in Bern. The director of the Federal Commission against Racism, Alma Wiecken, condemned the incident. 

“Such gatherings should not be tolerated,” she declared.

It is unclear if the group has broken any Swiss laws, however. Lawyer and racism expert Daniel Kettiger told the 20 Minuten news site that it would be difficult to establish members of the group had been guilty of racial discrimination in the current case. 

He said this was because no specific race or ethnicity had been directly and demonstrably targeted by the group and because their appearance had occurred during the carnival celebrations when there is a relatively high tolerance for satire.

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