Police seek reinforcements to help end Stockholm riots

Violence has spread through Swedish capital’s most ethnically mixed areas

Fri, May 24, 2013, 11:16

Stockholm police are asking for reinforcements to help end riots that have spread through the Swedish capital’s most ethnically mixed areas.

About 30 cars burned overnight in Stockholm’s western and southern suburbs as unrest that started in Husby, north of the capital, continued for a fifth night, police spokesman Kjell Lindgren.

Schools were also set on fire, he said.

Rioters are showing their anger over a police shooting more than a week ago of a 69-year-old local resident, according to Megafonen, a group that says it represents Husby residents.

“It has been a tough night for police and emergency forces,” Mr Lindgren said. Officers have been “attacked with stones. These events obviously drain our resources and we have asked for help.”

The unrest has plagued Stockholm’s poorest suburbs, where high rise complexes built in the 1970s are mostly inhabited by immigrant families.

Of the 12,000 people living in Husby, where the riots started, 60 per cent were born outside Sweden making them part of a demographic that is burdened by twice the national jobless rate.

Sweden has suffered similar bouts of unrest before. In 2008, rioters clashed with police outside the southern Swedish city of Malmoe. Back then, the violence also spread to Husby.

Local residents are “extremely angry and sad,” Adam Khoder, a member of prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party for the Rinkeby-Kista council, which is a part of Stockholm’s local government, said yesterday. The acts of violence that have plagued outer Stockholm this week are “not normal,” he said.

There were similar scenes on Tuesday and Wednesday, when about 30 cars were set on fire in areas with some of Sweden’s highest immigration rates. A Husby school and cultural centre were set alight while garbage cans burned across other suburbs. A school was set on fire in Skaerholmen and a police station and buildings in central Jakobsberg were vandalised.

Mr Khoder said a lack of education and employment was probably to blame for the extreme reaction by the youths. “It is important to mention that many of them did not come from Husby and that this is about a few criminal youths, not entire neighborhoods,” he said.

The family of the 69-year-old man who was shot dead by police has urged rioters to stop. It’s “the wrong way to react,” said Risto Kajanto, the dead man’s brother in-law, according to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet. “We must discuss with the police and get along - violence only feeds more violence.”

Police need to acknowledge the shooting was a “mistake,” Mr Kajanto said. The deceased man, who emigrated from Portugal in the 1970s with his wife, who came from Finland, had been out eating in a restaurant on the day he was killed, according to Aftonbladet.

After their meal, the two were threatened by a group of youths, prompting the man to go home in search of a knife. He was later shot by police in his apartment, according to the newspaper.