The words ‘Let me see your ID’ are synonymous with oppression. In the 1980s the Artists United Against Apartheid (best known for Sun City) even wrote a song of the same name, in protest at apartheid-era South Africa’s Pass Laws, one of the ugliest manifestations of that country’s apartheid policy. In brief, all black people had to carry internal passports, and any black person found without a valid document could be imprisoned without further charge. Resistance to the Pass Laws led to many thousands of arrests and was the spark that ignited the Sharpeville Massacre of March 1960.
The Pass Laws were finally repealed in 1986, one of many small steps on the road to the ending, in 1991, of apartheid itself.
Today in Bucharest, a woman was aggressively handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car for refusing to show any ID. The video is genuinely shocking:
Not perhaps as shocking however as the fact that a number of people who really ought to know better have defended the police.
We are well aware of the fact that we come from a very different kind of society, but to us the matter is simple: if a policeman or policewoman has good reason to suspect a crime has been committed then he or she should make an arrest. If not, leave people alone. Refusing to hand over ID should – in a free society – NEVER be an offence.
A sad day.
Meantime, be aware that as in apartheid South Africa, you can be arrested in Romania for not carrying and presenting ID as requested. Until this spiteful, communist-era law is repealed, we suggest you make sure you do.