Seven people were arrested on Tuesday following the Husby riots in northern Stockholm, with Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt warning that the unrest may continue.
Four of the suspected rioters arrested were detained, two were later released and a third person turned out to be under 15, the age of criminal responsibility in Sweden, according to local police chief Jörgen Karlsson.
The men are between the age of 15 and 19, and are suspected of violent rioting and assaulting a public official.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt commented on the matter in a press conference at the Riksdag on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve had two nights with great unrest, damage, and an intimidating atmosphere in Husby and there is a risk it will continue,” he said.
“Now everyone, including parents and adults, needs to help restore the calm. Husby residents must get their neighbourhood back,” he added.
“We have groups of young men who think that that they can and should change society with violence. Let’s be clear: This is not okay. We cannot be ruled by violence.”
Between 50 and 100 people took part in the rioting on Tuesday, and up to 300 people were estimated to have been on the streets, which was “probably more than on Sunday”, police chief Karlsson said.
“We know that some of those who participated came from other parts of the country,” he added.
Witnesses estimated that around 100 vehicles were torched during Sunday’s rioting, together with a garage that left an apartment block evacuated for most of the night. Rioters threw stones at the police officers on hand, and even at fire-fighters attempting to quell the blazes. Several properties and stores in the area had their windows smashed.
“Seven police officers suffered minor injuries in connection with the rock throwing,” Karlsson explained.
“There was a smaller riot south of the city, but whether there is any connection to what happened here is hard to say,” he said.
Community-based organizations said the riots stem from frustration over the fatal police shooting of a 69-year-old man in Husby last Monday.
“You have to see what happened from a wider point of view. It’s not the first time something like this has happened, and it’s not the last. This is the kind of reaction when there isn’t equality between people, which is the case in Sweden,” Rami al-Khamisi, a law student and founder of local youth organization Megafonen, told The Local.
Sweden’s Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said residents were reacting to the turmoil.
“Those living there are of course worried and angry and upset because their things have been destroyed,” she told TT.
“But I don’t want to review the actions without having all the facts on the table. I’ve talked to the county police this morning, and it’s a truly tough job the police are doing here. When they are helping the fire-fighters in the area, they are victims of stone throwing. It’s youths from Husby and a great deal of others who have gone there,” she said.
There were also problems on Monday night in other immigrant-heavy areas of Stockholm, including Tensta, Kista, Rinkeby, and Fittja, where people were throwing stones. In Fittja, around 30 young people threw rocks at the subway trains, the emergency services, and the police at the local shopping centre, according to the local police’s website. Cars were also burnt. No one has been arrested.
Apartment blocks in Husby, a product of Sweden’s controversial “million homes programme”, were built in the early seventies and are home to around 12,000 people, of which 80 percent come from immigrant backgrounds.
Authorities launched an ambitious effort to regenerate the low-income suburbs of northern Stockholm in 2007, but the area’s youth unemployment rate remains one of the highest in Sweden.