Stockholm ‘back to normal’ as riots subside

A few cars were set alight in the Stockholm suburbs early on Tuesday morning, but police have said the situation in the Swedish capital has returned to normal following a week of disturbances.

Stockholm 'back to normal' as riots subside

“Now we’re back to normal. There was no rioting, and only a few torched cars, fewer than ten,” Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said.

IN PICTURES: Day three of the Stockholm riots

There were no reports of unrest in other Swedish towns either.

More than 150 cars and dozens of buildings have been torched in the past week of nightly unrest, which began on May 19th in the Stockholm suburb of Husby, where 80 percent of inhabitants are immigrants.

It was apparently triggered by the police shooting and killing of a 69-year-old resident who had wielded a machete in public.

IN PICTURES: See the damage from the Husby fires

Local activists said the shooting sparked anger among youths who claim to have suffered from police brutality and racism.

The unrest began to ease significantly on May 24th, when police reinforcements were called in from other parts of the country and large groups of volunteers patrolled the streets to deter troublemakers.

Given Sweden’s traditional reputation as one of the world’s most tranquil countries, the riots came as a surprise to many foreigners.

IN PICTURES: See what people in Husby had to say about the riots

Among Swedes themselves, the violence sparked debate over the integration of immigrants, many of whom arrive under the country’s generous asylum policies and who now make up about 15 percent of the population.

In recent decades, Sweden became one of Europe’s top destinations for immigrants and asylum seekers, both in absolute numbers and relative to its size.

But many of them struggle to learn the language and find employment, despite numerous government programmes.

AFP/The Local/dl

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Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.