A Black Man's Brutal Murder Causes Pause in Denmark

Officials say Phillip Mbuji Johansen's killing wasn't a race-based crime; many disagree
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2020 2:26 PM CDT

(Newser) – One of the two white men suspected of torturing and killing a black man in Denmark has the words "white power” and a swastika tattooed on his legs, yet prosecutors have said "skin color" played no role in the crime. It's a determination that has rankled many in Denmark, reports the New York Times, which notes that activists and those close to Phillip Mbuji Johansen are calling officials out for being too hesitant to call out racially inspired violence for what it is. What the killing is being called is "a personal relationship that has gone wrong." Johansen—28, of Danish and Tanzanian descent, and studying to be an engineer in Copenhagen, per USA Today—was visiting his mother in Bornholm.

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She says he went to a party on Monday, followed by an invitation to have a beer in the woods. Of the 23- and 25-year-old brothers who were arrested Wednesday and charged with manslaughter, his mother describes one as an old friend of Johansen's. They have reportedly admitted to beating but not killing Johansen, who police say was beaten with a wooden beam; his skull was broken and he was stabbed a number of times, including in the throat. The suspects allegedly also put a knee to his neck, leading Black Lives Matter Denmark to call it a "racist copycat honor killing." One of the unnamed suspects—the one with the tattoos—has reportedly voiced his support for a far-right group. The lawyer for the other brother says the man is unaffiliated with extreme-right groups. (Read more Denmark stories.)

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