National Police Chief on riots in Sweden: ‘They tried to kill police’
After days of extremely violent immigrant riots in several cities in Sweden, National Police Chief Anders Thornberg called a press conference at the beginning of the week which confirmed the very serious situation: "Lethal attacks have been directed at us. This is worse than violent rioting. It has been extreme violence against life and property."
Published: April 20, 2022, 11:36 am
Örebro, Linköping, Norrköping, Stockholm, Landskrona and Malmö are all cities that have been hit by violent riots where Muslim immigrants have attacked the police after the Danish politician Rasmus Paludan applied for a demonstration permit to burn the Quran, an act to provoke Muslims, but which is fully legal in Sweden under the protection of constitutional freedom of expression. The result has been a subsequent immigrant chaos where hundreds of Muslims have thrown stones, burned cars and fully demonstrated the Swedish police’s inability to deal with the escalating immigrant violence, which has led to widespread criticism of the police’s actions.
Thornberg called a press conference due to the massive violence and the lawlessness that rioting immigrants have displayed around the country. According to him, the violence against the police is nothing like the authorities have ever seen in Sweden before.
“This is something else. It is a serious assault on life and property, especially against police officers. It is very worrying and we will take strong countermeasures. This should not continue.”
Burning the Quran sparked the riots
The controversial Paludan, 40, who is party leader for the Stram Kurs party, announced that he would conduct an election tour in Sweden before the parliamentary elections. He applied for and received permission to hold square meetings in several places from last Thursday and to legally burn his own copies of the Quran.
The plan was to visit Jönköping, Linköping, Norrköping, Örebro, Landskrona, Malmö and the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby, but after violent riots, where immigrants attacked police, he has not been able to carry out all the licensed and legal square meetings in all places.
Pictures of burning police cars, lots of Arabs and Africans throwing stones and police in retreat instead flooded the media space over the Easter weekend and showed the difficulty of integrating members of what is sometimes called the “religion of peace” into Swedish society. The police’s inadequate response in the face Muslim acts of violence were also on full display.
In six cities, hundreds of immigrants have ravaged property and often the police, ordered to be passive, had to retreat and run. In rare cases where they intervened, they were forced to do so in order to protect the lives of their own police officers.
“They tried to kill police officers. Lethal attacks have been directed at us. This is worse than violent rioting. There has been massive violence against life and property. These are not ordinary counter-protesters,” said Anders Thornberg, who believes that many of the participants in fact have connections to criminal immigrant gangs.
A total of 26 police officers were injured, 20 police vehicles were destroyed and 14 civilians were injured during the riots. Three people were hit by gunfire in Norrköping when the police had to fire their service weapons. It is currently unclear whether these were actually only warning shots that had caused the injuries. The police officers who fired their service weapons have been put on leave while the incidents are being investigated.
The National Police Chief said that the aggravated violence was a “serious symptom” of a major problem. He was referring to the extensive recruitment by criminal gangs.
“Children are lured into the gangs before they become punishable,” he explained. “I would like to say that this is worse than violent rioting. In some cases, there may even be attempted murder and at least aggravated blue-light sabotage. Because this is something else. Extreme violence that focuses on life and property.”
According to police officer Alexandar Jeremic, who was stationed in Örebro and Rinkeby, it was an “overwhelming task” where he feared that his colleagues and himself would be killed by the rioters.
“It was an overwhelming task, they never stopped. It never ended. Had a colleague got stuck or fallen, I am absolutely sure that he would have been stoned to death,” he told SVT.
The target of the immigrants was the police – not Paludan
Jonas Hysing, national commentator, agreed and said that the perpetrators’ motives have been to damage the police and the police’s property rather than Rasmus Paludan, who in several cases has not even been at the scene of the immigrant riots.
“That there could be disturbances had been included in the calculations. Prior to each meeting, we had worked with various local actors, such as police negotiators, to counter riots or tendencies towards it.
“The police were the target rather than the organizer. What speaks for it is that he was not present on several occasions,” he added. “Right now, some of the crimes that are suspected are: attempted murder, aggravated assault and violence against an official.”
According to information, at least 44 people have so far been arrested by the police in various cities. A very extensive body of film technical material will also be analyzed by the police in an attempt to identify more immigrants who are suspected of participating in the riots.
“We have a lot of our own film material that we have started to go through. We also want as much film and images as possible to enable the prosecution of those who in many cases have committed serious crimes in the last days,” said Jonas Hysing, commander of the national special event, in a statement on Monday before the press conference.
Criticism of police passivity
The criticism against the police, and especially since the police chiefs gave orders to stand down during the immigrant riots, has been massive on social media. Police themselves have also criticized their own management. In an open letter, a police officer who worked during the operation in Linköping on Thursday criticized his own management: The decision to withdraw was wrong.
“We did not know if everyone had made it out or if there were colleagues left. In addition, it felt like leaving the area and the citizens of Skäggetorp to their fate,” a police officer told SVT.
But Thornberg believes that he did “his utmost”. As usual, the blame is placed on “lack of resources”, despite the fact that several police officers stated that they had more than enough resources in place – but had to stand and watch the violence escalate after a decision by the police management not to go in, something that happened in Örebro , Linköping and Norrköping.
“It hurts terribly for me to see my colleagues have to endure this. We are too few. We are growing, but we have not grown in step with the problems in society. We have systematically informed the government and the Riksdag that we must address these gangs. There are far too many and young people in society who want to become criminals. We must put an end to this.”
Police complain on social media
Policeman Björn Borg 41, a group manager and area policeman in Motala, said that despite his 15 years in service, he has never seen as much violence as during the riots of recent days. He went to the immigrant ghetto Skäggetorp in Linköping during the riot.
“It escalated very quickly and it quickly became aggressive violence directed at the police,” Björn told Aftonbladet.
He says that large stones flew over their helmets, shopping carts and sticks were thrown at them. In fact, everything at hand was thrown at the police.
“It became a dangerous situation and we had to retreat. It was just to save ourselves from the mob and the raining stones and then a number of vehicles remained. They were set on fire and destroyed.”
After the chaos, he wrote a post on Facebook that was widely circulated: “When we tried to stand for freedom of expression and democracy, we met with a violence I have never encountered before. Thursday’s riots in Linköping and Norrköping and Friday’s riots in Örebro can best be described as a war zone.
“Cars were set on fire, we saw stone-throwing and completely senseless violence. A violence so severe that we were not sure whether we’ll come out of there alive. Most police and civilians were injured and property amounting to huge sums were destroyed.
“The stone thrown at the police in a helmet and uniform is not just thrown at a policeman. It is thrown at a father who is looking forward to celebrating Easter with his children. It is thrown at a mother who before work has hugged her children and promised to come home again.
“The violence and the stone that is thrown not only hurt us, it puts our freedom of speech and democracy out of play. We can not accept the violence. We must stand up for democracy and freedom of expression.”
Mass immigration creates a society that no one wants to live in
In the south, where immigrant riots shook both Landskrona and Malmö on both Saturday and Sunday, Regional Police Chief Carina Persson condemned the violence and thanked her staff for their actions during a couple of tough days and said that the police had done a good job.
“Despite extensive planning, many and wise choices, as well as ample resources, we ended up on Saturday night in a situation that is not acceptable, in our country or elsewhere.”
But she also addressed the culprits, pointing at changing demographics as Swedes become a minority in their own country: “Through your abominable actions, you create a society that none of us wants to live in.”
During the riots in Malmö, which took place in Rosengård, far from the Bunkeflostrand where Rasmus Paludan held a short square meeting on Saturday, a bus, several cars and extensive damage to police vehicles were witnessed. On Sunday evening, the riots continued and Rosengårdsskolan was set on fire. Witnesses said the situation at midnight got completely out of hand. Several police patrols had to be sent to the scene to disperse the mobs. According to Expressen’s photographer Jens Christian, there were about 20 cars from the police at the scene, in what he describes as a “huge effort”. Danish police buses were also borrowed.
Eight people finally arrested by the police, are suspected of involvement in the riots on Saturday and Sunday in Malmö. On Sunday, new riots also started in both Linköping and Norrköping. On Monday, unrest was reported from several cities and there is now great concern that immigrant violence will spread and escalate.
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