Thursday, May 23, 2013


Disturbances of this sort are nearly unknown in Sweden, and certainly are on this scale. What began as rock throwing at police in the Husby area, where the shooting occurred has escalated. More than a hundred cars being set alight and then even a number of state buildings including two schools. A police station in the suburb of Jakosberg area was also attacked. Rioting has spread to more than a dozen Stockholm neighborhoods.

Rebellion spread across the Swedish capital for a fourth night, as large numbers of young people churned through the suburbs, throwing stones, breaking windows and destroying cars. A  police station was set on fire in Stockholm's southern suburb of Rågsved, where several people were also detained. No one was hurt.

The disturbances, the worst since similar uprisings four years ago, began in the Husby suburb.

There are lots of articles and posts about the uprising, rebellion (or riots) happening in the Stockholm immigrant suburbs, but not much useful  information.

Still, let's see when youthful immigrants rebel like this in a spontaneous and combustable manner it seems to me there is usually talk of unemployment, racism, police brutality, housing and a general loss of hope.

Selcuk Ceken, who works at a local youth activity centre in Hagsatra, Sweden was quoted by numerous news sources,  

"It's difficult to say why they're doing this.  Maybe it's anger at the law and order forces, maybe it's anger at their own personal situation, such as unemployment or having nowhere to live."

Yeah, maybe.

Rami Al-khamisi, co-founder of Megafonen, a group that works for social change in the suburbs told the media, 

"We see a society that is becoming increasingly divided and where the gaps, both socially and economically, are becoming larger.  And the people out here are being hit the hardest ... We have institutional racism."

 Rouzbeh Djalaie, editor of the local Norra Sidan newspaper, which covers Husby (the center of the uprising) adds,

"The reason is very simple. Unemployment, the housing situation, disrespect from police.  It just takes something to start a riot, and that was the shooting."

Incidentally, the shooting of a sixty nine year old mentally ill man by police was the spark that started the fire burning.   

A local source speaking to state-owned Radio Sweden said residents had been protesting since the shooting incident, demanding an investigation. However, they felt their actions had been left unanswered by authorities, the source added.  So some took to the streets a bit more forcefully.  

Sweden's The Local reported:

"The police are steadily increasing their presence in our neighbourhoods... We are also worried that the police are steadily becoming more aggressive and more prone to violence in their work," Megafonen said in a statement in the run-up to the incident. 

Megafonen went on to accuse the police of spreading "disinformation" and demanded an inquiry. The police later modified its official version of the incident.

Djalaie said the shooting likely contributed to the worsening mood among residents in Husby, a district in north-west Stockholm consisting primarily of multi-storey apartment buildings built in the late 1960s as part of Sweden's "Million Programme" housing construction project.

"Social tension needs a spark, but it's not the cause," he said.

Cops calling immigrants "monkeys" and using other racial slurs isn't going to just go over anymore.  People just aren't going to take this sort of thing and move on...even in Sweden.

What follows is a comment on libcom from someone on the scene:

I'm super short on time but will attempt a bit of a background. Bear in mind that I'm also new to Stockholm and I live on the other side where the suburbs/satellite towns haven't seen the same developments yet.

Stockholm is massively segregated along ethnic and economic lines. The inner city is a reservation for rich people bound by water and green areas. Outside this satellite towns or suburbs built mainly according to modernist principles house the working class and large (2nd, 3rd etc generation) immigrant populations.

Recent years have seen the sale of flats and town centers to private owners to below market rates. A recent report suggested 50 000 000 000 sek had been handed over to private hands in this process. This is the equivalent to the cost of running all Stockholms schools for two years.
Venture capitalists have taken over the "town centres" and failed to maintain them while raising rents. Slum lords have bought up housing stock in the suburbs.

The housing and urban situation is Stockholm is extremely tense. Cars have been burning regularly. Adding to this the REVA police operation which is was basically having internal border checks stopping foreign looking people asking for their "papers". People are often stopped under the pretext of fare dodging, cycling without lights etc. etc.

The riots have centered on Husby which has seen a lot of local initiative and resistance to the selling off and transformation of the suburbs. Amongs other things they successfully prevented a massive tranformation where the current modernist traffic separation by pedestrian bridges would be changed to provide traditional streets with cars street frontages and pavements. The people of Husby liked being able o let their childred run about without risking being run over by cars and had to mount a serious campaign to stop the removal of the bridges.

Another comment read:

 The police/security have been getting worried recently about "radicalisation" in the suburbs. More recently there has been REVA targetting people without papers which as you can imagine mainly just meant stopping and harassing people of colour. There was a lot of public outrage against this and recently more debate around structural racism.There was also before that the "instagram riots" in Gothenburg, which touched at deeper frustrations too. 

Are you starting to get the picture.

This is one more example of the multitude rising up, unorganized, unled, not exactly sure where it is going, but angry with the world the Empire has build for them to live in.  We've seen it happen everywhere from LA to Paris, to London, to Athens, to Seattle, to.....

It isn't going to stop in Sweden.

Truthdig reports:

 As unemployment has risen in Sweden, some people have pointed to immigration as the problem, a trend evinced by the rise in the polls of the anti-immigrant party Sweden Democrats ahead of a general election next year.

Out of a total 103,000 immigrants to Sweden last year, 43,900 were refugees from war zones, almost a 50 percent increase from 2011. Nearly half of these were survivors of the fighting in Syria, Afghanistan or Somalia, and will get at least temporary residency.

Sweden ranks fourth in the absolute number of asylum seekers out of 44 industrialized countries, and second relative to its population, the U.N. reports.

 Since the murder of Olof Palme Sweden has moved from an advanced welfare state to a much more savage example of capital.  While still retaining an overall high standard of life for Europe, the outlook for youth and for immigrants has been trending rapidly downward.

 The following is from the May 20th  RT. 

Rioters in Sweden protest alleged brutality, racism after police shoot elderly man

Rioters took to the streets of a Stockholm neighborhood on Sunday, torching cars and throwing stones at police. Officers reportedly called residents “monkeys” and other derogatory terms as they protested against a recent police shooting.

Between 60 to 100 people – most of them young men – took part in the riots which began around 10pm local time in the Stockholm district of Husby.

Police turned up at the scene after a car was set on fire. Upon arrival, officers were met with stone-throwing protesters, Police Chief Daniel Mattsson said, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal.

One policeman was attacked by youths kicking him and two others were injured by rocks, police officer Jorgen Karlsson told AP.

Rioters torched cars in a local parking garage. Around 50 vehicles were damaged in the fire, which forced the evacuation of a nearby building. Windows were smashed at two schools and several local businesses.

Mattson said there were 18 criminal incidents reported and that the unrest lasted for four hours.

Allegations of police misconduct

Witnesses say that police officers reportedly called rioters and residents “monkeys” on Sunday night, discriminating against their race.

Rouzbeh Djalai, editor-in-chief of local newspaper The North Side, told The Local that she spoke to a youth leader and some of teenagers after the riots. The group reportedly approached police asking if they could help.

The youth leader told her that he was called a “nigger” by police, while the boys were called “monkeys.” They also said the police attacked them with batons.

"If the police don't want to cooperate, they should just say it; they don't have to call people names and hit them with batons," Djalaie said.

Residents of Husby are angry that police are increasing their presence in the neighborhood, instead of focusing on long-term solutions to the area’s problems.

"There's frustration in Husby and it risks spiralling out of control; people want long-term solutions to social problems instead of an increased police presence," Djalai said.

"It's a neighborhood where one third of junior high school graduates leave school without adequate grades; they step straight out into unemployment. It's obvious what the consequences are," she added.

Seeking justice

The riots were in response to the fatal shooting of an elderly man last week. The man was shot and killed by police after officers responded to a call that a person was roaming Husby with a knife.

Once officers arrived, the man disappeared into an apartment, police spokesman Lars Byström told TT news agency. He then stepped onto a balcony and threatened officers.

"He screamed at police from the balcony that he wanted to kill them," a neighbor told the Expressen newspaper.

Negotiators were called to the scene and police learned that a woman was also in the apartment. After failed attempts at negotiating, police broke down the apartment door in an effort to secure the woman’s safety.

But things took a turn for the worse once officers arrived inside the residence.

"Then the person in question appeared holding a machete. Officers felt cornered and threw a flash grenade so they could overpower the man. That didn't work either and they then felt forced to open fire,"
 said Byström.

Police faces youths rioting in northern Stockholm on Sunday night and early morning Monday on May 20, 2013. (AFP Photo / Johan Nilsson)
Police faces youths rioting in northern Stockholm on Sunday night and early morning Monday on May 20, 2013. (AFP Photo / Johan Nilsson)

It is unclear how many officers fired shots and how many shots were fired, but witnesses say police fired five or six shots in total.

"We saw the flashes when they shot. Even if you'd never seen an actual shooting before, you knew what it was,"
 a witness said.

Police say the 69-year-old man was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead from gunshot wounds.

However, local youth organization Megafonen reported on May 15th that neighbors said there was never an ambulance. Instead, they say a hearse turned up to cart away the body at 2am.

The woman inside the apartment escaped with no injuries, according to police. Her relationship with the man remains unknown.

Megafonen arranged a protest against the alleged police brutality last week, in response to the fatal shooting. The group - a community-based organization aimed at organizing residents to fight for social justice - demanded an independent investigation and public apology.

"Last week, the police shot an old man who was holding a knife. How can they do this without taking responsibility? I can understand the reaction (riots)," Megafonen founder Rami al-Khamisi said.

Prosecutors from the Swedish National Police Crimes Unit are currently investigating the shooting.

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