Date: Sun, 23 Nov 97 13:27:24 CST
From: (Brian Hauk)
Subject: Youth Protesters In Sweden Say No To Fascist Rally, Cop Brutality

Youth Protesters In Sweden Say No To Fascist Rally, Cop Brutality

By Birgitta Isacsson, Militant, Vol.61 no.42, 1 December 1997

STOCKHOLM, Sweden—For the first time since World War II, an openly anti-Jewish demonstration was held here November 8 in commemoration of the so-called Kristallnacht in Germany. On Nov. 9, 1938, following a call from propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, Nazi thugs smashed into Jewish shops and synagogues across Germany.

Between 50 and 100 Nazi sympathizers took part in the rally here outside the central train station. With the Swedish flag in the forefront, speakers denounced the Jewish power concentration, which they claimed can be seen today in this country, where the Jewish Bonnier family owns 75 percent of the evening press. Their original plan was to gather outside the national union headquarters, the Norra Bantorget, and march to the Bonnier publishing house. When they came to Norra Bantorget screaming, Kill the reds, they were met by a counterdemonstration of 200—300 people, most of them youth. Without interference from the police, the Nazis tried to make a block against the antiracists, but were driven back. With the assistance of the police they marched instead to the central station where they held their meeting. The cops focused their efforts on keeping the antifascists in place, and arrested one youth who they accused of attempting to instigate a rebellion.

Cops assault antiracist protesters

The countermobilization was called by several organizations, including Hasans Friends against Violence and Racism, the National League to Stop Racism, Antifascist Action, and others. Among the demonstrators were two young people in wheelchairs, whose presence fueled the anger against the police for not protecting the counterprotest.

When the Nazis were driven away and the countermobilization formally ended, about 100 protesters tried to follow the rightists downtown. After the police got the Nazis into a train at Sodra Station, they blocked the antiracists and beat up several young people. One 14-year-old, Thea Rikken, was struck in the face by the police. She publicly condemned the assault and said she is suing the cops. The violence from the police was totally unnecessary, Rikken said.

The widespread criticism of the police has sparked a debate in the media here. The police officer in charge in the region, Lanspolismastare Gunno Gunnemo, said, Of course I think it is healthy that people react against the neo-Nazis. But the antiracists complicate our work sometimes. Asked by the liberal daily Expressen how the police could allow a anti-Jewish demonstration to take place at all, Gunnemo said, We thought .. stopping it would have caused more fuss than what has actually happened. Swedish law prohibits baiting against Jews or other peoples. In the bourgeois press the issue is often posed in the framework, Shouldn't the police have broken up both the racist and antiracist demonstrations, as none of them had police permits. The conservative Svenska Dagbladet editorialized, Shape up the police in Stockholm. Those without permission should not be allowed to demonstrate. And those who are demonstrating should not bait any group of people.

Protest against Schengen treaty

The anger against the police was obvious November 9, when well over 200 people demonstrated here against the Schengen Convention and for Swedish withdrawal from the European Union. The Schengen treaty, which provides for increased collaboration by police forces in the European Union and tightens immigration from outside the region, was added to the EU charter earlier this year.

One speaker described the arrest of 700 demonstrators in Amsterdam when the new EU charter was negotiated. The demonstrators adopted a resolution protesting those arrests. Anger against both the police and the Nazis grew when the crowd learned that the police had arrested three antiracists the day before and that the Nazis had smashed the windows of the Gay- house in downtown Stockholm during the night. Dag Tirse'n told the crowd how five skinheads smashed the windows of the Pathfinder bookstore the night of October 5, and drew a parallel between how the cops refused to defend the anti-Nazi rally, the Gay-house, and other obvious targets for the ultraright. He urged the crowd to adopt a message of support to the Gay-house.

Another speaker, Per Franke, talked about how the Swedish government treated Jews and other victims of the Nazi terror during the Second World War. The government registered all foreigners living in Sweden, in February 1939, around 20,000 people, to learn who had a Jewish background. This information was passed on to the German Nazis.

On November 15 about 200 people rallied to protest police violence and the cops' refusal to protect the antiracists from the Nazi attack the previous week. One of the speakers took up the case of three young men who were arrested outside a McDonald's restaurant after the antiracist mobilization November 8. The three said they were humiliated and beaten up by the police, who called them racist epithets and forced them to lay down half naked while beating them. This has further fueled the debate about the police in Sweden in general and Stockholm in particular.