Interim report: documenting racist controls with mapping software


On Monday, 6th of October, we started off with a media-activist action to counter the EU-wide police actions known as "mos maiorum" [1]. We published a web-based map on which people can report "racial profiling" / racist police controls in their cities. After one week of reporting police checkpoints, we now want to sum up the project so far.The police hunt of refugees throughout Schengen-Europe will continue until 26th of October, and reporting will continue.


On Tuesday and Wednesday we received quite a lot of media attention [2], especially on Twitter made the news. Reports of controls came floating in to the website, particularly from central and southern Europe. Until now we have received over 200 reports from 9 of the 25 countries participating. Interestingly, the "iron curtain" remains a reality to some degree, since we got only few reports from former Warsaw-Pact and now Schengen countries.


In some countries, other activist projects are taking place against "mos maiorum". Thus,  we did not receive reports from there. This includes Sweden, because people there operate a twitter-account ([3]) to make public the racist controls. In Italy, there is a group collecting reports via facebook ([4] ).


The persity of languages poses well know problems of exclusion for this map. Fortunately, some people reacted to our calls for translations and are now actively supporting us by translating reports and news - thank you so much for that!


The general media attention, with its addiction to news, declined shortly after the start of "mos maiorum". Equally, less reports came in at Hopefully this happened due to a decline of police operations, but we account this much more to a decrease of interest. 

We expect a rise of media attention towards the 26th, when "mos maiorum" will finish. It is also likely that police operations will increase within the next days even more, because a lowered media coverage is in the interest of the police. The effects of past media coverages already had an effect on the overall PR strategy of "mos maiorum":Frontex tried to play down its role in "mos maiorum" on monday. A little later, the Council of the European Union stated that this was an operation by the Italian government.


The  EU has claimed that one goal of the police operations is to collect information about migration routes and to acquire a more precise knowledge where future police interventions would be effective. By publishing the points of controls and feeding this information back onto the streets, warning people and therefore possibly rerouting travellers, we are happy to crisscross this information gathering project. This data gathered now by police controls has a value for future racist operations. A secondary power of this map therefore might have long lasting effects by blurring the precision of the data acquired by the police.


So far, the map has successfully increased public knowledge about this unprecedented effort in "racial profiling" by the European Union. And it makes a difference: it demonstrates a bottom-up application of media technologies. Whereas (critical) media coverage can not empower you to take action yourself, the map project changes power relations and empowers you to make visible what is supposed to be invisible. With that at hands, the map is not only a (even if incomplete) documentation of a massive racist operation, but opens the possibility to use the collected information for localized actions on the grounds. This is what the map could amount to: racist hot spot recognition system and a tool for immediate counter-action.


For the first time we have set up such a mapping-software to visualize and make public racist controls in the EU. It is an experiment which still has a lot of room for improvement. But already now we can envision the potential of such a tool, once it becomes a common media practice for thousands of activists. As vice-magazine put it: if there are enough reports about the police operation "mos maiorum", it eventually could lead to the opposite effect, an exact documentation of police tactics that show howthe European police forces try to get hold of migration movements. While documenting police actions is a brave citizen's normal duty, we consider the map as a tool to engage with police on the ground, to disturb this operation with protests that emerge all of a sudden. The technology and information is now available. Antiracist movements: please take over from here!


You can support this project in many ways:


- inform your communities about the map - both online and offline.

- submit reports. they are the teeth. ([5] available in En - Fr - Ger)

- help translating reports and news - contact ( ) if you want to get connected

- donate money via bitcoin for hosting the website: 1HNkqW4t2J8uRBsbLxuRPuZormgp6j4A5g

- take the news to the street and get active - protest against racist police controls! 


Map Mos Maiorum - -