Police detain 470 at neo-Nazi demonstration
Published: 07 Dec 2008 10:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Dec 2008 10:30 GMT+01:00
Tension was high this year as extremist groups from right and left assembled in Salem, south-western Stockholm, for demonstrations variously in support of neo-Nazi groups or for democracy against fascism.
Fire-bombing attacks at the end of November against left-wing activists in nearby Högdalen had caused extra concern at the annual event which takes place to mark the death of a 17-year-old neo-Nazi killed on December 9th 2000.
"It was a successful day from a police perspective," said Anders Olsson at Stockholm police to news agency TT.
Nätverk mot Rasism (network against racism) held a standing demonstration at around lunchtime and managed to assemble some 350 activists, while the far-right Salemfond was given permission to march to Salem from nearby Rönninge.
Police detained 274 demonstrators who had assembled at Rönninge station before dispersing them by buses and trains to locations far from the town.
A group of known militant Danish and German activists were collected by police from a bus in Alby and prevented from joining in the Salem demonstrations.
A further 33 people from Norway, Germany and the UK were detained at Kafé 44 on Södermalm in Stockholm.
In total of 15 of those detained were placed under arrest on suspicion of charges ranging from intent to cause grievous bodily harm, intent to vandalism and sabotage, rioting and weapons offences.
At 5.30pm around 700 neo-Nazis joined the march in Rönninge towards the bus stop where the teenager was killed in 2000.
The cost of the police demonstration is thought to be in the region of 6 million kronor ($711,000) and opposition to the demonstrations has become more vocal in recent years.
The Local reported on Saturday that a group pf cross-party local councillors penned a debate article in Dagens Nyheter on Saturday arguing that the police and the courts are giving permission for an organised riot.
Kristina Alvendal, the Moderate party chairman of Stockholm police board, was in Salem on Saturday and was however happy with what she saw.
"The police have had the situation firmly under control," Alvendal said while expressing understanding for local residents who are obliged to live under siege for a December day every year.