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Citizen duties

International media have in the past days reported about the problems with riots now spread to the capital of Sweden. Stockholm was shaken last night by new disturbances and fires. In an open letter at Facebook a firefighter, Mattias Lassén, directly turns to the stone throwers, “Why are you doing this to me? I also have a family that wants to see me again, just like you! To you who threw rocks at us tonight Thank goodness it was only one of about 20 stones that went through the box. Luckily I had my helmet on your head so the stone just left a big scar on my helmet … You have impacted my professional life and my friends for all time ! ” he writes.

Greater Stockholm Fire Brigade had during the night from 75 to 80 incidents to handle. There have been several reports that police and emergency services have been attacked by stone-throwing youths.

The firefighter continues writing that the emergency services are on hand for those who need help and appealed directly to the stone throwers to stop. “I’m here about your dad needs help if he collides with his car, I will help your sister if there is a fire in her kitchen. I will swim in ice cold water to help your little brother if he had fallen out of a boat even though it is ice cold in the water. ” The post ends with the sentences: “Why do you do this to me? I also have a family that wants to see me again, just like you!”

Nearly 10 000 people had 23/5 at 05.00 am Swedish time shared the message of the firefighter.

The current riots in Stockholm are horrible to the citizens, but in contrast to the international media, the picture shows that it is not a completely new phenomenon even in a country like Sweden. An example of strong disturbances in the modern era are the June riots or Hunger riots that took place in Stockholm in 1917. A large number of disturbances took place throughout the country in 1917 triggered by a combination of famine and political tension as a result of social conflict and unrest in Europe as World War I and the Russian Revolution. 5th of June 1917, a large group of people gathered at Gustav Adolf’s Square in a rally in the occasion of the issue of women’s suffrage. The demonstration was broken up by police, and was the last major rally in 1917. The same year also saw Seskarö insurgency in Sweden. Seskarö is an island 25 kilometers south of Haparanda. There were food rationings and suspicions were that the bakers on the island withheld the public food and instead sold it at Haparanda black market market. Workers forced bought food and police were called, but were driven off the island by population. This prompted the Swedish military to intervene against the hungry at Seskarö in Haparanda Archipelago

Solving frustration with violence is never a good solution, whether it takes place in Paris, London or Stockholm. It is not how to build lasting stability in a society. The forces of order are the tools we have in a democracy to build security. We have an obligation to create good dialogue with citizens, to build hope and giving opportunities but to avoid spoon-feeding. It can´t just be someone elses duty, we need to share that together.  It is to build democracy, to build it from the bottom, with honesty and respect but without naivety. A society´s  aim is to reduce the gaps between people, not as it is reported in a new OECD report about the development in Sweden, increase them. That is how Scandinavian countries went from unrest and riots to successful welfare-states. That is how we build stable societies now and in the future. The society and the individual must promote cooperation and avoiding mental- and physical isolation. Every citizen has rights but also obligations.

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