Rioters vandalized shops, burned vehicles, and threw rocks at police in Rinkeby, a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden, during an outbreak of violence following the arrest of a drug suspect in the predominantly immigrant neighborhood on 20 February 2017. At least two people were injured, including a news photographer.
The incident garnered international attention because it came mere days after President Trump gave a speech in the United States referencing an instance of immigrant violence in Sweden which never actually occurred.
According to the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, the fracas began with a small crowd threatening police after the initial arrest took place near an underground station. Shots were fired (though no gunfire injuries were reported) after an officer was hit by a rock, intensifying the unrest as the crowd grew to around 50 people, the paper reported. Seven or eight cars were set on fire and an unknown number of shops were looted. Police said the rioting subsided around midnight.
Sweden has long been in the forefront of European countries accepting refugees from elsewhere in the world, prompting those opposed to open-door immigration policies to claim the influx of foreigners has caused crime rates to rise in the country. The actual statistics don’t bear that out, however. Despite a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers in 2015, an analysis cited by the Washington Post found that fewer than one percent of all crimes in Sweden during the final three months of 2015 were committed by refugees. Similarly, the BBC reported that Sweden’s crime rate has not risen in proportion to the increase in immigration:
Preliminary statistics from the Swedish Crime Survey (in Swedish) show only a marginal increase in 2016 from the year before. Fraud and crimes against individuals were up, but drugs crimes and theft had decreased.
The number of reported rapes increased by 13%, although that is still lower than the number reported in 2014 (6,700), as Sweden’s The Local reports.
There have been no terror attacks in Sweden since the country’s open-door policy on migration began in 2013.
That is not to say that Sweden’s policy of welcoming refugees has been problem-free. “Sweden, definitely, like other countries, [faces] challenges when it comes to integration of immigrants into Swedish society,” Henrik Selin of the Swedish Institute was quoted as saying in the Washington Post. But what the actual statistics indicate is that immigration opponents routinely exaggerate the scope of such problems, as when President Trump asserted, based, apparently, on a clip he saw on Fox News, that Sweden is “having problems like they never thought possible.”
Correction: It was initially reported that police fired warning shots after an officer was struck by a rock. A police spokesman later said officers “fired to hit,” though no one was injured.
Anderson, Christina et al. “Clashes in Stockholm Suburb Draw Attention to Trump’s Remarks.”
The New York Times. 21 February 2017.
Bearak, Max. “Riots Erupt in Sweden’s Capital Just Days After Trump Comments.”
The Washington Post. 21 February 2017.
Carp, Ossi and Hans Rosen. “En DN-Fotograf Misshandlades Vid Upploppen i Rinkeby På Måndagskvällen.”
Dagens Nyheter. 21 February 2017.
Holmberg, Kalle and Johannes Ledel. “Polisingripande i Rinkeby Följdes av Upplopp och Plundring.”
Dagens Nyheter. 20 February 2017.
BBC News. “Sweden Probes Riot in Mainly Immigrant Stockholm Suburb”
21 February 2017.
The Local. “Swedish Press Photographer Assaulted in Rinkeby Riots.”
21 February 2017.