On Saturday night in the suburb of Gottsunda, a number of cars were set alight, and a firebomb was thrown into a swimming centre, an officer of Upplands Police told news agency TT. It was the third night in a row of chaos, with youth gangs running rampant, according to a report in the Uppsala Nya Tidning.
A number of local authorities and actors are convening at a hastily arranged crisis meeting on Monday morning to discuss the recent spate of gang violence that culminated in the wild weekend of fires in Gottsunda. Politicians are concerned about the rise of gang-related vandalism, but emphasise that the situation requires long-sighted efforts to address the problems.
At the meeting this morning, between representatives from the county council, rescue services, the police, the fire service and housing association, the police and fire service will present a report on the latest incidents, and the meeting will discuss measures that can be instituted to break the cycle of violence, according to the report in the Uppsala Nya Tidning. The response to the unrest is being handled under the umbrella of a long-standing social, cultural and environmental programme in the district called the “Gottsunda Process”.
“The events of recent days are very serious, and no one benefits from it. Now in the first place we will work to ensure order returns, but unfortunately there is no simple solution for this problem,” said Hilde Klasson, a local volunteer in the Social Democrats, and coordinator of the Gottsunda Process.
Local authorities appear to be pointing the finger at a small number of disaffected youths in the area as being responsible for the disturbances in recent days, although public explanations about the nature of the problems in Gottsanda have thus far been oblique.
Both Klasson, and fellow Gottsanda Process member and chairman of the social committee for children and youth, Anders A. Aronsson, agree that the disturbances involve only a few perpetrators, who were responsible for most of the damage.
“At the same time it is important to emphasise that the picture is not all bleak. Gottsunda also has other faces. For example, no other district in Uppsala has such a vibrant cultural life,” said Aronsson.
There have been calls for the creation of more natural spaces for young people in the area. But Klasson does not believe that the scarcity of public places or infrastructure is a factor behind the disturbances.
“These places exist already. I don’t believe that’s the cause of the problems. It’s important now to build up a good relationship between the police and youth. It’s clear that there is a feeling of exclusion, but that can’t excuse such criminal behaviour,” she said.
The head of Uppsala County Councli’s Social Services (Socialtjänsten) was engaged in the emergency meeting when The Local sought a comment, and had not returned calls by this afternoon.