Jash Doweyko-Jurkowski’s video from Möllevångstorget square in Malmö shows rockets exploding around him and being shot towards groups of people on New Year’s Eve, as revellers watch on and film on their mobile phones. The video has been watched over 334,300 times since it was published on January 1st.
“Where I stood in the square I’d estimate around 20-25 people were shooting rockets, but it’s important to point out I was mostly standing in one place. There were several other places in the square where it was happening,” Doweyko-Jurkowski told The Local.
The chaotic looking scenes are well known in the city, he said:
“When I moved to Malmö I always heard that 'Möllevången' is a bit like a battlefield on New Year’s Eve, that it’s standard there and more or less a tradition.”
Nils Norling, a press spokesperson for police in the south of Sweden, confirmed to The Local that the square has a reputation for its New Year’s Eve celebrations.
“I don’t know for how long exactly but it has been happening there for many years. People shoot fireworks in an unsafe way, straight ahead and down into the ground,” he said.
“It’s known that you can’t guarantee your own safety if you’re there on New Year’s Eve. There’s a risk you could be hit with a rocket,” he added.
Doweyko-Jurkowski think that even if people are well aware of the risks involved in going to the square to celebrate, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t change.
“Everyone knew Möllevången would be like a battlefield, it felt like all the people who were there knew what would happen. But in my opinion, this is a public place, and it’s important that people should feel safe across their city, it’s the city’s responsibility to ensure that,” he insisted.
Police spokesperson Norling pointed out that officers were present at the square, and that no one was injured.
“We had a number of police patrols in place there to make sure no one was injured and move anyone if necessary. We didn’t have any police reports filed about it, and while it’s important people were taken to hospital if they were hurt, as far as we are aware no one was,” he noted.
“It’s also the case that when police are there they can be a target for someone who wants to shoot a rocket at them, so it’s difficult for them to police. No arrests were made and no police reports filed however.”
Doweyko-Jurkowski, who studied journalism, said that watching how the video has spread and been interpreted differently depending on the media outlet has been a useful exercise.
“It was good training for me as a new journalist to be in the middle of the chaos and film it, and also to experience how the left and right sides of the media took it and tried to make a political point out of it,” he concluded.
Skåne Police’s Norling emphasized that he doesn’t think irresponsible use of fireworks is limited to Malmö. Recent reports of more than 50 cases of rockets being shot at police, public transport and emergency services in western Sweden support that notion.