Who's the man in the red scarf at the US Capitol? Sweden wants to know

The Local Sweden
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Who's the man in the red scarf at the US Capitol? Sweden wants to know
Council officials in a small town in northern Sweden are scratching their heads after one of their scarfs appeared in the US. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images via AFP

Three years ago, a town in northern Sweden handed out around 1,000 scarfs as Christmas gifts to former residents. Now, one of them has turned up in the violent attack on the US Capitol, and Swedes – and the Washington DC police – are trying to identify its wearer.


The mystery started when local residents in Skellefteå – a municipality of around 72,000 people almost 800 kilometres north of Stockholm – spotted the scarf on the floor in one of the many pictures showing the debris left by a violent mob of Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol during a joint session of Congress.

Skellefteå council officials confirmed to local newspaper Norran that it was one of around 1,000 scarfs they sent as Christmas gifts in 2017 to residents who had moved away from the area, an annual tradition.

"We've been doing it for at least five years. The gifts have varied, one year we sent out Pride mittens," Skellefteå marketing director Helena Renström told Norran.

Swedish national daily Dagens Nyheter (DN) then managed to track down several pictures of a man wearing the scarf while taking part in the riot. He can be seen waving an American flag outside the Capitol, pushing against the police fences, as well as inside the building discussing the floor plan with other people, among other places.


The man had as of noon on Thursday not been identified – and it is not known whether he is a Swedish national or not. DN has gone through a list of the 934 people who received the red scarfs in 2017. Out of those, only one lives in the US, a woman. She told DN that she received socks, not a scarf, and did not recognise the man.

The man has also been identified as a "person of interest in unrest-related offenses" by the Metropolitan Police in Washington DC, who are appealing for more information.

Meanwhile, he has been dubbed "the Skellefteå man" in some of Sweden's biggest newspapers, who are racing to unpick the mystery of the red scarf.

"You really want to know how the scarf made it to the US and how the man got hold of it. Nobody would have thought that such a small town in northern Sweden would play such a big part in such a mockery of democracy," Skellefteå resident Johanna-Lovisa Vannebäck, the first person who spotted the scarf, told Aftonbladet.


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