Swedish police arrested eight people after riots in Husby spread to other Stockholm suburbs last night as young people set fire to cars and schools and vandalized property.
About 30 cars burned overnight in suburbs including Husby, Jakobsberg, Norsborg and Vaarberg, Kjell Lindgren, a spokesman for the Swedish Police, said by phone today. In Husby, a school and the Husby Gaard cultural center were set on fire while rubbish bins burned across Stockholm’s western and southern suburbs. A school was also set alight in the Skaerholmen suburb, and a police station and buildings in central Jakobsberg were vandalized.
The riots began in Husby on May 19, about a week after a 69-year-old man brandishing a knife was killed by police in an apartment. Sweden, which has Scandinavia’s highest youth unemployment rate, has suffered from riots before. In 2008, young people in Rosengaard in the southern city of Malmoe clashed with police after setting fire to cars and bins. Those riots also spread to the Stockholm suburbs of Tensta and Husby.
“There is a core, as there often is, of young men who believe in using violence and who believe that this use of violence is above our democratic values and above Swedish law,” Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told reporters in Stockholm yesterday. “The people of Husby must get their suburb back because the majority want to live in calmness and safety.”
The people arrested for vandalism and setting cars on fire were born between 1991 and 1995, police spokesman Lindgren said. The police officers who patrolled the capital city’s suburbs last night “felt the atmosphere was less confrontational than on previous nights,” said Lindgren. Police remain prepared in case of further riots tonight and is probing claims that officers used racist slurs, he said.