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Today in Stockholm, hundreds showed up to protest the Nazi group Nordiska Motståndsrörelsen (NMR). Despite receiving a permit to march through the Kungsholmen area of Stockholm, the small group of nazis opted to stay in a square preaching to their own choir. Due to police blockades several blocks away in either direction, no one could pass or get close to the nazis without proving that they lived in the area. The only outside audience the nazis had was perhaps the residents of nearby buildings – if they feigned to listen. Police were calm and quiet – but to be fair, with a football field between you and any civilians, it’s hard not to be.
NMR is known for their extreme violence and counter-protestors were well aware and prepared to stand their ground should the small group of roughly 50 or so try anything. Due to the heavy police presence and numerous blockades however, the nazis were well buffered. Indeed, later in the day, counter-protestors had to set up almost in the water just so they could shout over the nazis as they held their oddly public yet very secluded meeting.
Counter-protestors got started early – blowing up giant turds and passing out shirts that read “Nazism Är Skit” (Nazism is Shit) and posters that read “Ät Skit Nassar” (Eat Shit Nazis). Speeches were held decrying the hate and violence set forward by the nazis and the party closest to their ideals – SverigeDemokraterna, SD.
With just a couple of weeks to go until elections here in Sweden, folks I spoke to are not particularly excited about any party. Most people feel that there’s no one willing to really rattle thrones. Everyone seems either glad to fall in line with the status quo or lacks a backbone to challenge it. For instance, a hot button issue for the people is immigration. Folks want a good and just policy that protects refugees and current residents. Instead, politicians waffle, him, haw and do nothing, leaving the issue of immigration to the nazis to proselytize about.
Much like we saw in the US in 2016, people here know who they don’t want – and apparently all those people are running for office.
With that in mind, it was good to get onto the streets and see some solid community organizing at work. Still, the fact that it needed to happen is a dangerous show of systemic laissez-faire in the face of growing fascism worldwide. Giving a permit to a violent group of nazis whose resume includes killing a man at a protest and attacking lines of police makes me really face palm as to how my friend’s hippie dance party was turned down. And this isn’t an issue of free speech. nazi shit heads can still congregate to spew their stupidity but the direction of community funds and resources to that end is not part of the free speech deal.
The last time NMR showed up, it cost Stockholm city 20 million crowns (roughly $2.2 million USD). Although this time proved quieter, the show of police – from horses to paddy wagons – combined with road closures couldn’t have been cheap. Meanwhile, businesses all along the blocked-off areas just shut down – seeing no point in staying open if people can’t get to them. For a Saturday in Stockholm in the still-warm summer, that’s a big hit for smaller cafes and shops. Outside of the capitalist paradigm, there’s the simple and loud message to the people of Stockholm that a nazi gathering is worth shutting down the city for. Fuck your day, the nazis need to meet.
I’m not glad to see parallels between the US and Sweden – but after today and the conversations I’ve had with residents during my time here, it’s clear that the solution is the same no matter where you are: the people. And ultimately, outside of the constant re-routing thanks to over zealous street closures, the day was a powerful show of creative solidarity, community and anti-fascism. Here’s to more of that on both sides of the pond.
(All images can be republished. Please credit Eleanor Goldfield / Art Killing Apathy)