“At 10pm we sent out staff to an address in Husby,” explained Lars Byström of the Stockholm police to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
IN PICTURES: See the damage from the Husby fires
“My colleagues were met by young people who threw stones at them. It continued with a couple of violent riots and extensive damage.”
The riot kicked off when young people set fire to cars in Husby, a suburb in the far north of Stockholm. Witnesses claim at least 100 vehicles in the area were in flames. Another fire was lit in a nearby garage, resulting in the evacuation of the apartment block. Around 50 residents were taken care of and sheltered in buses that were on hand.
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The local shopping centre was also vandalized, and three police officers were injured in the fracas. Police estimate that the riots involved somewhere between 50 and 60 youths.
RELATED STORY: ‘Husby is usually a very peaceful place’
Forty emergency workers from both police and the firefighting service were on hand.
The protests come in response to a fatal police shooting of a 69-year-old man in Husby last Monday, according to the youth organization Megafonen. The man had been threatening police with a machete before he was shot.
Initially, police told the press that the man had died from his injuries at hospital, but it later emerged that the 69-year-old died at the scene.
Many neighbours questioned why police used such extreme violence to deal with the situation.
“This was an old man with a knife facing a whole gang of specially trained armed police officers. Did they really have to kill him?” a neighbour said to the Aftonbladet tabloid the day after the shooting.
A community-based organization that aims to organize residents of Stockholm’s northern suburbs to fight for social justice claimed Sunday night’s disturbances started as a “reaction to police brutality against citizens, our neighbours”.
“We understand that people react like this,” Rami Al-Khamisi from Megafonen said in a statement.
Calm was restored to Husby by 5.30am. Police did not, however, make any arrests.
“We’ve not made any arrests, but we’ll try to during the day. We’ll take a look at security footage and speak with witnesses so we can take legal action against the people who are guilty of crimes,” Byström told DN.