Police ‘not worried’ ahead of neo-Nazi march in Stockholm

Stockholm police are confident they can contain the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) march planned on the Stockholm island of Kungsholmen on Saturday.

Police 'not worried' ahead of neo-Nazi march in Stockholm
A Nordic Resistance Movement supporter at a demonstration in Ludvika last Saturday. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
“We are not worried,” Lars Byström from the Stockholm Police told The Local on Saturday morning. “First of all we have put up a lot of fences to keep groups separated, and we have a lot of police officers in the field, so I think we are well-prepared for this.” 
The police have drafted in reinforcements from across the country to police the march, which starts at the Kungsholmstorg square at 12pm on Saturday.  
Byström told the TT newswire that police were prepared for the group and counter-demonstrators to cause disturbances. 
“Unfortunately, we have had similar events previously and then there have been a whole lot of disturbances,” he said, adding that the police have been carefully monitoring extremist groups in the days running up to the march. 
“Up until now it’s mostly been about collecting information and we’ve taken a few people into custody as a result of that,” he said.   
The NMR (Nordiska Motståndrörelsen) group was on Monday granted permission to hold a demonstration of between 30 and 3,000 people. 
After meeting at the squre, supporters will then march along the lakeside Norrmälarstrand, across Sankt Eriksgatan, and then back via Hantverkargatan to Kungsholmstorg. 
Speakers at the event will include the group's leader Simon Lindberg, the group's candidate in Ludvika Pär Öberg, and Fredrik Vejdeland, described as the group's “political strategist”. 
Police are closing off side streets on either side of the route to prevent the marchers coming into contact with counter-demonstrators. 
Over 2,000 people have marked themselves as  'attending' an antiracist counter-demonstration in the
Kronobergsparken park in the centre of the island.
Carolina Paasikivi, from the Stockholm Police, told state broadcaster Sveriges Radio that while most counter-demonstrators were peaceful, a small segment saw violence as a justifiable response to Nazi groups. 
“NMR's opinions, as well as the National Socialist ideology, provokes both disgust and to be honest considerable fear,” she said. “But it also attracts counter-demonstrators, of whom some see violence as legitimate political tools, and that is why we are preparing to keep these two groups separate.” 
Byström said that with squares across the capital filled with politicians ahead of next month’s election, a Korean cultural festival, a march of the youth wing of the Swedish Communist Party, as well as the sunny weather bringing people out, people should avoid unnecessary car journeys into the capital. 
Six political parties have appealed agains the permission granted for NMR’s march. But Sweden’s administrative court has ruled that there are no grounds to challenge the police’s decision to allow it. 
Ahn-Za Hagström, a senior analyst at Sweden’s Säpo security service, said that the agency was seeing growing activity in the white power environment, but that this was not unusual in an election year. 
“We can see it this year too, and the growth is within the parameters of our expectations,” she told TT. 
She said that the neo-Nazis' “increased visibility” did not necessarily constitute “an increased threat”, with Säpo judging the organisation to be more of a risk to individual targets than a threat to the democratic system as a whole. 
Previous NMR events in Sweden's cities have led to violence. A demonstration by the group in Gothenburg earlier this year led to 15 NMR members and two counter-protesters being taken in by police, three months after another march in Gothenburg led to hours of unrest and dozens of arrests.