Just what IS going on in Sweden?

So what is going on in Sweden? Fox News and other sites make it sound like Sweden has burst into chaos with immigrants going nuts at a police arrest, and no go zones for police. The New York Times and The Washington Post claim Rinkeby, the site of the riot, is economically depressed, but the entire situation is a blip on the radar. The Swedish media…well it depends on the outlet.


Two other major Swedish outlets seem more interested in the fact the American press went nuts over the riots. Expressen had an entire article dedicated to the American coverage of the riots, while Svenska Dabladet focused more on the response by supporters of President Donald Trump.

The most “just the facts” coverage appears to be from Dagens Nyheter. DN called what happened Monday a “rowdy evening,” which took four hours for police to get a handle on. It all started when someone was being arrested for drugs, but how it spiraled into violence we don’t really know. One witness told DN officers failed to do their duty by not protecting a DN photographer from being attacked. Google Translate isn’t perfect from Swedish to English, so bear with any grammatical errors.

Eventually interrupted the assault and the perpetrators dispersed. DN’s photographer was as bloody and dazed, but he could get up and get in the way to his car. His camera equipment had one or some of the attackers had stolen.

Chaima Hakam, who runs a small shop in Rinkeby Square, is sharply critical of the actions of the police. According to her, they sat there in their vehicles, both during the beating and the continued violent events.

– I called 112 and told about the beating. Yet no police came onto the square. Later I understood that they had been left in their cars all the time. It’s unbelievable that they chose to be passive when there was a war here on the square!

DN also reported police officers aren’t really happy with how the handling of riot went.


Even among the police officers who were sent to fotpatrullera day after the devastation noticeable frustration. Police management in Stockholm has decided that all media contacts to be managed centrally, and few dare to speak by name.

I think we did wrong. We go into the offensive right time troublemakers do not prepare. Now it becomes instead the receiving power, says one of them.

Area Police Hanif Azizi sighs heavily between meetings with angry villagers Rink.

There is so much anger, you do not understand why we can not arrest them doing this. I say that management may have had specific information that made you not want to go into. But my role as district police undermined when I can not give any good answer.

It should be pointed out police aren’t saying why “management” would tell officers not to do any arrests. It’s possible police brass decided to let the rioters peter out, much like Baltimore appears to have done after Freddie Gray’s death. The so-called “blue wall of silence” apparently exists overseas, as well as in America.

Interior Minister Anders Ygeman believes an increased police presence in Rinkeby is to blame for the riots. Via DN and Google Translate:

The police are acting aggressively and it disrupts the criminal element in the area who do their best to stop this police operation but they fail because the police succeed in the arrest, he said.

He defends himself against that events would reflect lawlessness and that the police have lost control of the suburbs of Rinkeby.

– Then they had not been there and arresting people. This is about the police have increased their presence and then you get a backlash from the criminals. The police will backfire, says Anders Ygeman.

Continue to increase the number of police in the suburbs is his main prescription to increase security in the suburbs.


Rinkeby itself does appear to be the kind of place not a ton of people like visiting. There was a double murder over the weekend, and one woman told DN the neighborhood is bad because of the economy.

I am of course sorry for what happened, but not surprised. There are so many frustrated young men in Rinkeby. They get no jobs and have nothing to look forward to, says Nagata who is a nurse.

– Rinkeby has become isolated from the rest of the world. There is little opportunity to get out of here. It is a dangerous development, she says.

It almost sounds like Rinkeby is just economically depressed, and in a cycle where no one thinks they’ll be able to get out. There are obviously people who will immediately jump towards the fact the population is mostly immigrant, and the rumors of “no go zones,” but Lars Korsell with the Department for Economic and Organized Crime in Crime Prevention Council said in 2015 it was an economic issue. Via Forskning & Framsteg:

“It’s about socio-economically disadvantaged areas where there are many from other countries. The police have been very difficult to work there. When it committed crimes there so many do not want to testify, which makes policing extremely difficult.”

He places the blame on the early 1990’s biker gangs for the rise in crime in Sweden, plus people from the Balkans, and, yes, Middle Eastern criminals. But the fact the gangs put themselves in economically disadvantaged areas is pretty important. It should be remembered there are poor white communities in the U.S. which struggle with drug abuse and poverty. The Atlantic and Pro Publica have a pretty good (if not long) summary of the struggles of poor white folks in America. Alec Macgillis’ theory falls along economic lines:


But far more striking is the general aura of decline that hangs over towns in which medical-supply stores and pawn shops dominate decrepit main streets, and Victorians stand crumbling, unoccupied. Talk with those still sticking it out, the body-shop worker and the dollar-store clerk and the unemployed miner, and the fatalism is clear: Things were much better in an earlier time, and no future awaits in places that have been left behind by polished people in gleaming cities. The most painful comparison is not with supposedly ascendant minorities—it’s with the fortunes of one’s own parents or, by now, grandparents. The demoralizing effect of decay enveloping the place you live cannot be underestimated. 

The old FX show Justified, along with some of the short stories Elmore Leonard wrote, looked at crime in the poorer areas of Kentucky and the Dixie Mafia. Harlan does have a bit of a speckled history, even if it was obviously exaggerated in the show and books. It would be interesting to find out if the crime rates of Harlan and, say, Dallas or Philadelphia were almost equal, even if the numbers would be far greater in the larger cities, compared to the smaller ones. Harlan is only being used as an example, and I’m not trying to imply it’s some crime-riddled hellhole, so cool your jets before getting angry.

It’s certainly possible Rinkeby’s issues are all because of immigration, but I have a sneaking suspicion the poor economy and police crackdown on crime are probably more of a factor. The solution is more market-oriented, and won’t involve the government either handing out benefits to the population or using taxpayer funds to bribe larger businesses. The people are either going to have to take a risk and move to other part of Stockholm or some businessman is going to have to risk opening a company in the area. That’s really the best solution to the economic problem.


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