Hundreds of youths burnt down a restaurant, set fire to more than 30 cars and attacked police during a fourth night of rioting in the suburbs of Stockholm, shocking a country that dodged the worst of the financial crisis but failed to solve youth unemployment and resentment among asylum seekers.
Violence spread across the Swedish capital on Wednesday, as large numbers of young people rampaged through the suburbs, throwing stones, breaking windows and destroying cars. Police in the southern city of Malmo said two cars had been set ablaze…
The disturbances appear to have been sparked by the police killing a 69-year-old man wielding a machete in the suburb of Husby earlier this month, which prompted accusations of police brutality. The riots then spread to other poor Stockholm suburbs.
“We see a society that is becoming increasingly divided and where the gaps, both socially and economically, are becoming larger,” said Rami Al-khamisi, co-founder of Megafonen, a group that works for social change in the suburbs. “And the people out here are being hit the hardest … we have institutional racism.”
This sounds very similar to the context of the London riots a few years ago: the police are involved in a death and local residents respond in rioting while charging that this is part of a long line of negative actions taken by the police and government. However, we wouldn’t want to “commit sociology” by trying to explain such actions, would we?
This is a reminder of the state of some European suburbs where immigrants and lower-class residents live in run-down neighborhoods isolated from the native European society and opportunities for jobs and education. This is a different geography compared to the United States where rioting is linked to poor inner-city neighborhoods. But, the situations are alike: there is long-standing isolation, negative treatment from the government and police, and not much of a pathway to achieving the “good life” in society.