The officers on the scene allegedly used words like “monkeys”, “rats”, and “niggers” to people in Husby on Sunday night, when at least one hundred cars were torched and three police officers were injured after stones were thrown at them.
IN PICTURES: See the damage from the Husby fires
A local youth leader, who along with a small group of teens was out on the street on Sunday, told local newspaper editor Rouzbeh Djalaie that he was called a nigger when he asked the police if they needed any help. The teens were called “monkeys”.
“I can understand the police officers were stressed, but this language is unacceptable, and unfortunately nothing new,” Rami al-Khamisi, law student and founder of youth organization Megafonen, told The Local.
Megafonen is a community-based organization in the area that aims to organize residents of Stockholm’s northern suburbs to fight for social justice. Al-Khamisi, the founder of the organization, said the riots were a “reaction to police brutality against citizens, our neighbours”.
“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,” he said.
Last Monday, police officers stormed the home of a 69-year-old Husby man who was brandishing a machete and shot him dead.
“You have to see what happened from a wider point of view. It’s not the first time something like this has happened, and it’s not the last. This is the kind of reaction when there isn’t equality between people, which is the case in Sweden,” he added.
Al-Khamisi said that the crowd was reacting to a “growing marginalization and segregation in Sweden over the past ten, 20 years” from both a class and a race perspective.
“Out in the suburbs the majority of people aren’t white, and from a political perspective we’re seen as a problem that politicians want to solve by sending more police. This is not a solution we agree with,” he said.
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Stockholm police, meanwhile, would not disclose whether any arrests had been made in relation to the incident, which continued from around 10pm on Sunday night until 5.30am on Monday morning.
“I cannot make a statement at present because the police investigation is under way,” western Stockholm police spokesman Daniel Mattsson told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
He said that the police were tipped off about potential vandalism by concerned Husby residents who saw people with masks carrying cans containing some kind of liquid, and that just minutes later a car was burning.
Police have, however, filed 18 reports, ranging from violent rioting, causing damages, aggravated damages, attempted arson, and assault of an official.
Stockholm police officer Jörgen Karlsson said the accusations of racial slurs were “unfortunate”.
“It’s unfortunate if someone perceives they have been called that. But people can either make a police report or contact the local police,” he told the TT news agency.
Al-Khamisi, meanwhile, said that it’s unlikely that rioting in Sweden will stop any time soon.
“This kind of thing isn’t only happening in Husby, it’s happening all over Sweden. People are tired of politics not working in our favour, they’re tired of the current situation,” he told The Local.
“These people feel they have to take matters into their own hands.”