HUSBY, Sweden - Some 200 youths hurled rocks at police and set cars ablaze in a largely immigrant suburb of Stockholm on Tuesday, the second day of rioting triggered by the fatal police shooting of a man wielding a knife.
Dozens of windows were smashed, 10 cars and several containers were set on fire, and seven police officers were injured. Cars and containers were also set ablaze in another of the Swedish capital’s suburbs, Fittja, although police said it was not clear whether the two events were linked.
The unrest began Sunday night in response to the May 13 shooting, in which police killed a 69-year-old man who had locked himself in an apartment in Husby, west of Stockholm. Police refused to give the nationality of the victim.
Six youths were arrested early Tuesday, but two were released after questioning, police spokesman Jorgen Karlsson said.
Many local residents see the shooting as an example of police brutality, and the violence has stirred debate in Sweden.
Known for its strong welfare state and egalitarian society, the country has nonetheless had the biggest surge in inequality of any OECD country over the past 25 years, according to a recent publication by the global economic watchdog.
“This is not OK. We will not give in to violence,” Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said. “We must all help out to regain calm. The residents of Husby need to get their neighborhood back.”
Reinfeldt added that Husby — where around 80 percent of the roughly 11,000 residents are first- or second-generation immigrants — has been going in the right direction during his seven-year tenure, with employment increasing and crime falling.
The atmosphere was tense on Tuesday, with residents expressing both anger at police and sadness about the destruction. City workers were seen clearing the debris of a burnt-out container and documenting fire damage.
“It’s frustrating and difficult to see how those of us who live here get affected by something that has nothing to do with us,” said university student Muhamad Abukar, 24. “And then outsiders get the idea that we are animals, uncivilized.”
Abukar said he had seen the riots from his balcony and that those involved were mainly teenagers aged 13 to 16.
Reza Al Bazi, 14, and his friend Sebastian Horniak, 15, said they witnessed the violence throughout the night.
“The people of Husby have become tired of police brutality, so they react like this,” said Al Bazi.
Horniak claimed he witnessed police firing warning shots in the air and calling a woman a “monkey.” “I got upset yesterday because I saw police attack innocent people, they beat a woman with a baton,” he said.
Horniak’s claims of racist remarks were backed up by the organization Megafonen, which represents citizens in Stockholm’s suburbs. One of its representatives, Quena Soruco, said she heard police use abusive words such as “rats, hobos, negroes.”
Sweden’s Justice Minister Beatrice Ask told the TT news agency that anyone who feels mistreated by police should file a report.
Prosecutors have launched an internal probe into the shooting. Police say they shot the man in self-defense because he attacked them with a knife when they broke down the door to an apartment where he had locked himself up with a woman.