Our Swedish correspondent CB contributed two reports earlier this week about ethnic violence in Gothenburg. All the while Gothenburg was burring, similar events were taking place in Uppsala.
Below is the first of two reports on the situation in Uppsala. CB includes the following introduction to his translation:
This article is from Uppsala Nya Tidning, which supposedly is on opposite side to the leftists in Sweden, and is the major newspaper in Uppsala.
That makes this an interesting article, with a bizarre twist: after summing things up reasonably well, the reporter take a stroll down adoration-lane for the “youths” in her interview. She is quite uncritical of their actions. But the really serious misconduct by the reporter is that she doesn’t seem to have a problem with these thugs’ view of things; as if they and the police are some kind of rival gangs. Perhaps the reporter would have had a tougher time selling these “youths” as desperate kids, fighting for a just cause against an oppressive police force, trying to get their voice heard, if she included a certain crime in her summary:
On the evening of Saturday the 29th, two men were manhandled by “youths” at Gottsunda center parking. The two men in question, 61 and 27 years, had come to pick up their car when they saw 20-30 “youths” trying to torch a car. When the men tried to talk some sense into these thugs — and that is the appropriate word for them — the “youths” began to kick and hit the men. Some of these brave enrichers even tried to bash the 61-year-old’s head in with a rock. They certainly must have felt threatened by this old man trying to talk them out of burning people’s cars, since there weren’t more than 20-30 of them against two.
This is the kind of “youths” that the reporter seems to have such sympathy for. She can’t hide the fact that several of these thugs have a criminal history, and by that and their present behavior one can assume that the police feel that they are warranted in keeping a close eye at these people. And, by knowing something about how the Swedish system works, one thing is for sure: The police don’t have resources to tag all former criminals in Sweden. There are many former criminals of different ethnic backgrounds and with severe criminal histories that never described this behavior from the police. There is something behind this that this reporter doesn’t tell. By choice or ignorance, we’ll never know.
So, when reading this article, remember: the people this reporter has such understanding for are willing to bash in old people’s heads with rocks!
And now the translated article from Uppsala Nya Tidning:
“We see no other way out”- - - - - - - - -
By Josefine Sköld
They call it insurrection and revolution. By throwing stones and torching cars, the youth in Gottsunda call for help. They are afraid of the police. UNT’s [Uppsala Nya Tidning] Josefine Sköld and Staffan Claesson tell about the week that shock Gottsunda.
Friday 28 August. A police patrol on a routine mission was met with stone throwing and called for backup. When additional patrols arrived, the stone throwing escalated. At most, about ten police patrols were on location. Seven youths were apprehended for disturbing the peace and additional youths were searched. Those apprehended were released later the same evening. One trailer was ravaged by fire and two cars were damaged.
Saturday 29 August. During the evening and night three cars were torched. Very uneasy mood in the Gottsunda area, according to the officer of the watch.
Sunday 30 August. During night a car was set on fire at Gottsunda church and an incendiary bomb was thrown in to Gottsunda municipal pool building. Public bathhouse personnel were able to extinguish the fire.
Monday 31 August. Some ten youths from Gottsunda gathered at the police station in Uppsala and made a report about excessive police force and misconduct during the unrest in the suburb the previous weekend.
Tuesday 1 September. It can’t be seen. But it’s there: the concrete wall that separates the youths dressed in black from the police. They stare at each other. The police stand at one side of Hugo Alfvéns väg. The youth on the other. Nobody moves. Nobody says anything. After some ten minutes, all of a sudden, the police get back into the van and the tension eases. Nothing has happened. Yet so much.
The time is approaching ten in the evening and we are outside Verona Pizzeria at Bandstolsvägen in Valsätra. It is here it will happen tonight, the youths we met earlier in the afternoon indicate. They have all been part of the riots against the Uppsala police during the past week.
“We have been harassed by the police for several years. As soon as they see us, they stop and search us. It takes place in front of family and friends almost daily. We’re tired of this and see no other way out than to protest in this way. We feel humiliated and will not take s**t anymore,” says one guy in a green sweater who doesn’t want to state his name.
Everyone in the crowd of youths who have gathered around us are eager to tell their story. Several of them have a criminal past and feel persecuted by the police; for others, the hate against the authorities is about a brother or a friend being badly treated.
“There are many good cops here in Gottsunda, but some of them are racists. They call us “blattejävlar” [derogatory name for immigrants, with additional curse-word] and argue with us without reason. We don’t know if this will help, but it is an indication from our side that the police can’t treat us like this; we want to be treated as well as all other Swedes,” says Ali, and shows bruises he says he received from the police batons.
He’s all dressed in black. A hood conceals his hair, and over his mouth he has wrapped a Palestinian scarf. His friends have similar outfits. In the light from the streetlights they almost look ghost-like. Some ten police odd cars are circulating in the area; every other minute one of them passes by the pizzeria where the youths stand. Some of the police wave their hands towards the youths. They don’t wave back.
“Police behavior is terrible provocative. I can’t understand why they do that, wave and line up in a row and stare at us. We want them to leave us alone,” says Ali.
At the question whether there aren’t other, better, ways of protesting the police’s alleged actions, he shakes his head.
“They are above us. We have no power compared to them. It’s no use filing a report against a police, the investigation is always dropped in any case,” says Ali.
“We understand that it’s wrong to torch cars and throw stones at the police. But when we do like that, we get attention and the chance that somebody listens to what we say increases.”
It was during Friday evening last weekend that the row between the police and the youths from Gottsunda erupted seriously. Five youths were stopped by the police after one of them had given the finger to the police and another pulled his pants down. Finally seven youths were apprehended after throwing stones at the police. But concerning what really happened, how much violence the police used to apprehend the seven youths, there are different views. Eight people have filed reports about police officers for use of excessive force and official misconduct. In local media interviews the police have denied that any excessive force was used.
“The row with the police will just escalate after this. Say that you dare to shout something to the police the first night, next time you throw a stone. All the time you want to dare a little more, do some worse stuff,” says 19-year old Adam.
Around us a gang of younger guys in their teens have gathered. They turn their ears up towards us curiously. But they are careful not to disturb. Adam looks uneasily at the guys and says:
“A vicious circle is created here in Gottsunda. These guys see what we do and try to copy it; probably they have already learned to hate the police, even though they haven’t had any dealings with them.”
Adam wishes that there could be a recreation center for older youths in Gottsunda. He would also like to have more grownup role models moving around in the area.
“We miss the youth police that were here before. They were nice and we had great trust in them. It wasn’t as messy here at that time.”
But, what is it that really lies behind the unrest in Gottsunda area? The claim that the youths don’t have anything else to do besides harass the police and burn cars appears like quite the platitude considering the situation. Gottsunda has never had a good reputation since it was built in the 1970s. 22-year-old Mohammed explains:
“I can only talk about the situation as it is now. But many of us had a hard time in school, several dropped out already from high school. Myself, I have a really hard time getting a job and one of the reasons is that I’m an immigrant. If you don’t have any money you’re easily pulled into criminality.”
Mohammed previously used narcotics, but has stopped.
“I feel singled out. Just because I was a criminal when I was younger, it doesn’t mean that I’m doing something illegal at the present. As soon as I go out I’m afraid of meeting a policeman.”
At Verona’s open-air restaurant we meet Ayhan Altun. She has lived in Gottsunda for three years and studies law at the University. She has good relations with the youths who have been involved in the row with the police.
“One could say that many in the area feel this outsider position [utanförskap, a Swedish term for many of the people in immigrant areas who are unemployed and outside the regular society] is a fire that constantly burns. But for every incident where they feel unjustly treated by the police, another piece of ‘wood’ is put on the fire and it flares up.”
Ayhan Altun doesn’t think the youths will back down this time.
“Perhaps it will end up with somebody being shot. I’m afraid of that,” she says.
When we leave Bandstolsvägen around one in the morning, nothing has happened. The police cars continue to circulate the area. Sometimes the youths move away in different group constellations and force the police to drive after them on bicycle lanes or through shrubbery.
The report from the officer on watch, however, shows that an unknown number of youth have thrown a teargas cartridge against the police one hour later.
Wednesday 2 September. Gaming machines inside the Verona Pizzeria are running hot. But winnings are sparse. Someone says he discovered a system for distribution of profits and tries to explain to the neighbor. Besides that, the discussions this afternoon around Bandstolsvägen are about an excuse. It is the police that will ask the youths to be excused for their actions last Friday. The excuse is a demand from the youths side — otherwise they will continue with their nightly raids in the area. They have decided on a meeting with the police representative at seven thirty.
The hours pass. Some youths go home and change into black clothes. One does not have to check one’s watch to know that the meeting will occur soon. The number of police cars in the area increases significantly. Ali counts seven marked and three unmarked cars. Four persons from the police arrive at the place. According to one of them, Roger Hellström, they have agreed with the youths’ contact to exclude the media from the meeting.
“It wouldn’t feel good to have you there. This is between us and the youths,” says Roger Hellström.
At the same time that dusk falls over the high rise in Valsätra, the black-clothed guys enter the premises where they will meet the police. Some change their minds after a while and return to the safety outside the pizzeria.
“Several youths from other suburbs have contacted us and want to help in this struggle against the police. But we have told them that we must handle this on our own. They have to show their protests in another fashion. You’ve probably heard that some cars have been burning there,” says one of them.
The police cars continue to circulate. One hour later, the doors are opened again. The words virtually bubble out of the mass that happily runs out of the premises. The police have asked to be excused!
“It feels so heavenly good. With this the police acknowledged that they treated us wrongly last Friday,” says Adam and laughs happily, up towards the dark sky.
But, his joy is short-lived. Roger Hellström clarifies his statement outside the premises:
“We haven’t given them any apology. The only thing we said was: if the investigation shows that we acted wrongly past Friday, we will ask to be excused. But not before.”
The clarification gets a mixed reception in the camp outside the pizzeria. Some want to forget and forgive. Others want to continue what they call their revolution.
“I want to move on. But if the police continue to treat us badly, we will continue our protests. Then we will not surrender. We can’t be happy until the police let us be,” says Adam.
For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.