Thousands join protest in Gothenburg
A Black Lives Matter rally in Gothenburg started peacefully. Organisers had been given permission to hold a demonstration with no more than 50 participants, the limit set by Sweden's coronavirus restrictions. More than 2,000 people turned out, and police ordered the demonstration to break up due to the risk of infection.
Thousands of people marched in Gothenburg on Sunday. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
At around 3pm, most people had left the site voluntarily, reported the TT news agency, but many instead marched into central Gothenburg. When police broke up this march, several people instead congregated in separate groups around Gothenburg, and a few people started throwing bottles at police. During the afternoon and evening, cars were vandalised, store windows shattered, and assaults were reported.
Police said that most of the people involved in the violence were young men based in the Gothenburg area, some of them previously known to police. “They have nothing to do with this demonstration, they are just here to cause fighting and disturbance,” police spokesperson Thomas Fuxborg told TT on Sunday.
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Police reported around 35 incidents including violent riots, vandalism and assault. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
Swedish politics back to normal after coronavirus?
Swedish party politics have been remarkably peaceful during the pandemic, but when public broadcaster SVT organised the first party leader debate since the start of the outbreak, it was clear the peace was broken.
None of the opposition leaders criticised Sweden's overall strategy in keeping the country as open as possible during the crisis, but they accused the government of not having shown enough leadership. Perhaps the strongest attack came from Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch, who slammed the government as “dysfunctional” and accused it of deliberately having allowed the coronavirus to spread in Sweden.
“Of course no one tries to increase the spread of infection 'in cold blood',” the Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven hit back, quoting Busch's accusation.
The leaders of Sweden's eight parties at the party leader debate. Photo: SVT
A National Day unlike any other
Sweden celebrated its National Day on June 6th, but unlike most other years, people were urged to stay at home. An official celebration was broadcast on television, with speeches by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, but no large audience was invited to take part, to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“It has been a difficult time for many. Thousands have lost close relatives and friends. Others have lost their livelihoods. Baptisms, weddings and funerals – important ceremonies in life – have been cancelled. And the future may feel uncertain,” said the King in his speech.
King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
Some of the stories we will look into here at The Local this week include the WHO's new recommendations on face masks, how the coronavirus epidemic has affected our readers' view of Sweden, Sweden's decision to allow domestic travel starting later this week, the decision on the investigation into the murder of Sweden's Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986, and much more. We'll also be keeping an eye on the situation as more and more countries open their borders (and do they include or exclude travellers from Sweden?).
Do you have a story you think we should cover? Please get in touch at [email protected].
And if you are the man in a white sweater who was captured on video when he stepped in to stop vandalism at the protest in Gothenburg on several occasions on Sunday, we would love to hear from you.