Huge berry picker brawl sends six to hospital

Two rival gangs of migrant berry pickers came to blows on a scrappy car park near Gävle in eastern Sweden on Wednesday, with Swedish police arresting three of the men after the violent dust-up.

Huge berry picker brawl sends six to hospital

“It was clearly two gangs going at each other,” witness Niklas Wall told the local Gefle Dagblad newspaper after he parked nearby and watched the melee.

At one point, a man wearing white clothes fell to the ground where he was accosted by four men in black. While one man kicked the fallen man, two others pummeled him with what looked like piping or some other kind of bat.

“The worst I saw was the poor sod who fell and didn’t have a chance to defend himself,” Wall said. “I almost considered trying to scatter them by driving my car at them.”

The Swedish police were quick to arrive, however, with two officers approaching one group of men. From amateur video footage of the incident (embedded below), it looks like one officer dropped to his knees to illustrate to the men that they needed to stand down – which they immediately did.

“Bewteen 30 and 40 people were fighting with one another. Six people were injured and taken to hospital,” Gävle police spokeswoman Åsa de Veen told the TT news agency.

According to Gefle Dagblad, police said they had drafted in interpreters to get to the bottom of the altercation.

The berry pickers have, according to local residents, lived in the area all summer.

TT/The Local/at

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Sweden’s Gävle Christmas goat ready to return for festive season

Sweden's straw yule goat Gävlebocken, whose biggest claim to fame is its tendency to get burned down every year, is all set for its annual return on Sunday.

Sweden's Gävle Christmas goat ready to return for festive season
The ill-fated 2016 Gävlebocken. Photo: Pernilla Wahlman/TT

Every year, the Christmas goat (Gävlebocken) in the Slottstorget square in Gävle, central Sweden, attracts a media storm with locals dreaming up new ways to protect the arson-prone 13-metre-high creation.

Despite their efforts, including in some years spraying the goat in anti-flammable liquid, the goat usually goes up in flames long before Swedes have opened their Christmas presents.

Last year, the goat surprisingly made it to Boxing Day intact, to the delight of organisers, who were reported to have put a “secret” plan into effect to protect it.

In 2016 it was less fortunate, going down in flames mere hours after its inauguration.

READ ALSO: 'Memorial' to be held for Sweden's giant yule goat

“Many people are invested” in the straw goat in Gävle, Maria Wallberg of the town’s municipality told TT.

The central Swedish town is naturally proud of its luckless Christmas decoration, despite the fact it has burned town 29 times during its 50-year history.

Thousands of people are expect to attend the unveiling of the goat on Sunday, with the ceremony to be presented by Swedish comedian Clara Henry.

“It means an incredible amount that the city has such a strong symbol which is known all over the world,” Wallberg said.

Security around the giant goat is expected to be high, both during its inauguration day and throughout December. Security guards and cameras will both be deployed to keep an eye on it behind its fencing, while a taxi rank has been moved to the square to increase the presence of people in the area.

“For security reasons, we can’t go into too much detail,” Wallberg said of any further precautions.

Historical precedent is against Gävlebocken. In its first year, 1966, it burned down on New Year’s Eve and it has only made it through the entire month on 15 occasions. It has been burned, stolen and vandalised. In 1976, someone drove a stock car into it.

Orörd = undamaged; uppeldad = burned down; annan skada = otherwise damaged; oklart öde = fate unknown. Graphic: TT

“An attack early in the season would mean cancellations at hotels and restaurants. So it is incredibly important for Gävle, Gävle’s businesses and for everyone who wants to visit the goat that it is still standing at New Year,” Wallberg said.

READ ALSO: Five weirdest attacks on Gävle's arson-prone Christmas goat