Sweden and the other pandemic: violence

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A war between rival gangs has been raging for years in certain urban areas of the country.

In the early morning of August 2, 12-year-old Adriana was walking her dog next to a service area in Botkyrka, south of Stockholm, when she was cornered in a shooting. A car approached, its occupants lowered the windows and, thus, without getting out of the vehicle, opened fire; one practice at a time more common in the war between rival gangs that has plagued certain urban areas of the country for years.

The case caused the issue of criminal violence to reappear strongly in public debate due to the cruelty of the act. The bullet was not aimed at the minor, who had no relationship with the criminal environment. She was just passing by.

At the same time, several shootings have reignited gang violence in Gothenburg, to the point where the primary care service has canceled visits domiciliary to those districts.

Criminalists specialized in Swedish gangs agree that this type of crime has almost nothing to do with that of 25 years ago.

“In the second half of the nineties, motorcycle gangs appeared, with entry and exit rules; there was an organization in the groups. But from the second half of the 2000s, it began to become more and more the wild west ”Explains Mikael Rying, a criminologist with the Swedish police, to the TT news agency. Then an average of four people a year died in shootings: now there are 40.

“We talk about organized crime, but I would say that it is crime more disorganized what’s up. And the more disorganized, the more danger that shootings will grow and affect third parties ”, he adds. In addition, the use of automatic weapons and explosives is now common, increasing the risk of innocents being injured or killed.

With the numbers of the Covid epidemic down, the debate on criminal gangs has gained ground in the back to school Swedish politics, which also coincides with the exact equator of the legislature.

The opposition parties of the government of social democrats and ecologists have not missed the opportunity to exploit the issue. The latest polls show how the Social Democrats are losing steam after a rise in voting intention in the first months of the pandemic.

The main beneficiaries of the public conversation turning again around law and order they are the conservative party and the xenophobic Sweden Democrats, hitherto marginalized.

However, as the end of the legislature approaches, the possibility of a right-wing bloc is taking shape, including also the Christian Democrats. The debate is expected to become even more polarized when the government presents its new immigration policy.

The high volume of immigrants and refugees It is one of the arguments used by the right to explain the increase in conflicts.

“This deadly violence is like the other pandemic in Sweden,” said the leader of the opposition, the conservative Ulf Kristersson, in his first speech after the holidays.

“They are not common criminals; they kill children and terrorize entire neighborhoods. Bands are like domestic terrorists from Sweden ”, he emphasized. And he suggested following the example of Denmark, where the penal code is very more severe when crimes are committed by gangs.

“I recommend that the government take a study trip to Denmark; Sweden has a lot to learn there, ”said Kristersson.

The proposal coincided in time with the trial in a Danish court against five leaders of a Stockholm gang for a shooting in Copenhagen, in which two young men from a rival group were killed.

On August 28, the sentence: for the first time, one of the leaders of the gang called The death patrol (Death Patrol) was convicted of murder, something that had not been achieved in Sweden. Three of the accused were sentenced to life imprisonment, and two others, who at the time of the crime were 17 years old, with 20 years in prison.

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