Several hundred protesters waving rainbow flags took part in the diversity parade in Visby on the island of Gotland, where the annual Almedalen politics week is currently underway, in protest against the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM).
Prosters, including Green Party ministers Gustav Fridolin, Per Bolund and Alice Bah Kuhnke, chanted “No racists on our streets!” as they marched through Visby, and stopped by the NRM's marquee.
Some 30 members of the neo-Nazi group lined up and chanted back in response:
“Crush the gay lobby!”
“Long live national socialism!”
“White revolution, no excuses!”
The event was monitored by a large group of police officers, as well as crowds of onlookers.
In May, the Gotland municipality granted the NRM space at this year's Almedalen week. But the municipality later made a U-turn and asked the police to stop the neo-Nazi group from attending, saying they regretted their previous decision.
The police granted the NRM permission to attend, however, citing Sweden's constitutional freedom of assembly.
An art installation next to the NRM's marquee consisting of a pile of shoes, in reference to the Nazi crimes of World War II, was vandalised by members of the militant group upon their arrival to Almedalen on Friday. NRM activists tore the installation down, and loaded some of the shoes into a car before they were stopped by the police.
“At present around ten people are suspected of arbitrary conduct,” police spokesperson Carina Skagerlind told TT newswire.
NRM activists unload shoes they had taken without permission from an art installation commemorating the victims of the Nazis during WW2. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
At 5pm on Friday, the police had received four reports of hate speech, including Nazi salutes and the use of Nazi symbols.
On Saturday, a NRM activist was arrested for violent resistance when the organization caused disturbances in connection with a Green Party press conference, Aftonbladet reports.
“We received a call about a number of people causing disturbance. Most of them got out of the way when we arrived, but one person resisted and was arrested,” Skagerlind told Aftonbladet.
Skagerlind would not say whether the person belonged to a certain group, but the NRM confirmed on its website that one of its activists had been arrested.
According to anti-racism foundation Expo, the NRM was the key force behind a surge in neo-Nazi activity in Sweden last year, with propaganda-spreading being their most common form of activity.
“They're the most extreme end of this white supremacist area. There's a lot of crime associated with them, they have a relationship with violence,” Expo researcher Jonathan Leman told The Local.
Several organizations have chosen to boycott this year's Almedalen week in protest against the neo-Nazis's attendance.