Police Prejudice or Logics?

Analyzing the “Bornholm Murder Case”

in Conflict and Society
David SausdalLund University, Sweden David.sausdal@soc.lu.se

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This article discusses a high-profile 2020 Danish murder case where a young man was brutally killed by two brothers on the small island of Bornholm—a case that became the center of attention not only in Denmark but internationally with the New York Times reporting on it, saying “A Black Man Was Tortured and Killed in Denmark. The Police Insist It Wasn’t about Race.” Building on my long-standing ethnographic research of police investigations in and beyond Denmark, the article contemplates why the Danish police so readily denied the existence of a hate crime. How, in other words, was it possible for the Danish police to deny what to others seemed so apparent? Was it indeed yet another case of police prejudice as both media and many others believed? Or could it, as this article suggests, also be an example of a specific mode of rationality that governs much police thinking and detective work specifically?

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