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Wednesday's papers: Police prep for Independence Day, division over lie-ins and awards for a heroic duo

Helsinki city police gear up for annual marches, cities weigh a later school start and recognition for two youngsters who helped another child in distress.

Anti-fascism demonstrators in Helsinki on Independence Day 2017. Image: Jouni Immonen / Yle

Coming off the presses in southwest Finland, Turun Sanomat previews (siirryt toiseen palveluun) annual Independence Day celebrations due on 6 December with a look at Helsinki police preparations for marches, processions and possible clashes by groups representing competing ideologies.

The paper says city residents can expect a heavy police presence with mounted police and a large contingent of officers outfitted in riot gear for the occasion. Officials say they have already received advance notice from several groups that intend to take to the streets, including the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement.

Yle reported in September that the Finnish Appeal Court has upheld a lower court ban on the organisation, making it illegal for it to mobilise, demonstrate and distribute propaganda. However the ruling will only become enforceable when all avenues of appeal have been exhausted.

The nationalist 612 movement is also expected to stage a torchlight procession, with police estimating a turnout of just under 3,000 participants. The anti-racism and anti-fascism Helsinki without Nazis group has indicated that it will also gather to march on Independence Day.

Cities divided on late school start

Meanwhile tabloid Ilta-Sanomat examines different approaches (siirryt toiseen palveluun) in various cities to a seemingly-polarising proposal to start school later in the morning to accommodate teenage body clocks. On Tuesday, the city of Helsinki deferred a decision on a motion to relinquish the 8:00 am roll call.

According to IS, the city of Tampere’s education and culture committee will look at the same issue on Thursday. However according to committee chair and deputy mayor Johanna Loukaskorpi, since some Tampere schools have already adopted a later starting time, that meeting aims to harmonise practices across the city

While the issue is yet to become a talking point in Oulu, decision makers in Turku have already given the idea of abandoning the traditional 8:00 am start a cold shower. City councillors spiked the measure in committee when a motion to start school at 9.00am was tabled last spring.

The paper reports that school principals were concerned that a later start to the school day would have a domino effect on children’s activities throughout the day and would push back extra-curricular activities, eventually resulting in later bedtimes.

Awards for young do-gooders

Tabloid daily Iltalehti reports Wednesday on two young girls who received awards (siirryt toiseen palveluun) for helping a little boy in distress in January this year. The paper introduces readers to eight-year-olds Emilia Holopainen and Hilma Vesala, who encountered the crying child while walking home from school in Tampere. Emilia’s father urged the girls to approach the seven-year-old boy, who revealed that he had fallen asleep on a bus while returning from a school field trip and ended up far from home in the freezing cold.

As the girls waited with the boy while their father phoned around for help, countless passers-by went about their business without taking any notice of the trio standing at a busy intersection, the paper reported. However a police car on patrol drove past and returned to the children. They related their story, officers helped locate the lost boy’s father, and the shaken youngster was taken home safely.

On Tuesday evening, Children’s Ombudsman Tuomas Kurttila recognised the girls’ good deed by conferring on them the country’s first certificates for helping children as part of commemorations of the UN's Universal Children's Day.