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CRIME

Thousands sign petition to release US rapper ASAP Rocky from Swedish custody

An online petition calling for the release of US rapper ASAP Rocky, detained in Sweden suspected of assault after a street brawl, has gained more than 470,000 signatories in 24 hours.

Thousands sign petition to release US rapper ASAP Rocky from Swedish custody
ASAP Rocky performing in Sweden back in 2013. Photo: Christine Olsson / SCANPIX/TT

The petition #JusticeForRocky was launched on the website change.org on Tuesday and a day later had amassed over 470,000 signatories, according to the website. Several other smaller petitions have also been launched on the site.

Last week a Swedish district court decided the 30-year-old, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, should be kept in custody while prosecutors investigate a June 30th brawl, as he was considered a “flight risk”. Mayers' lawyer Henrik Olsson Lilja appealed the decision, but the court of appeal ruled against them and the Swedish supreme court declined to consider the case.

The district court's decision means Mayers can be held in custody for two weeks, while the case is investigated, forcing the rapper to cancel several dates on his European tour. After two weeks, it would require another hearing to extend his detention.

According to the petition, the rapper was acting in self defence, and his detention while the case is being investigated constituted a violation of his rights.

“To keep Rocky and his colleagues in jail pending the lengthy trial proceedings is a punishment before the fact, with no due process,” the petition argues.

It also claimed that the rapper was being held under “inhumane conditions”, alleging “24/7 solitary confinement, restriction of amenities for the most basic of human functions, access to palatable and life sustaining food as well as unsanitary conditions”.

The director of the Kronoberg remand prison, where the rapper is being held, issued a statement denying the allegations about the state of the facility.

The remand prison had been recently refurbished and was in “good condition”, said Fredrik Wallin — but he could not speak about “individual clients”, his statement added.

Mayers was born in New York and had a breakthrough in 2011 with the release of the mixtape “Live. Love. ASAP”. He followed that up in 2013 with the debut album “Long. Live. ASAP”. 

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CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

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More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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