Trouble in Husby

(This was written by contributor Eric Gandy, a resident of the Stockholm suburb, Kista. These are his observations and impressions, in prose-poem form, of an adjacent community, Husby, where there has been civil unrest for five days as of this posting).

A heavy morning shower has rinsed the dust from the grass and leaves. The air is full of the smells of spring, the rotten earthy smell of last year’s vegetation and the perfumes released by the new generation of flowers and leaves.

Suddenly a new odour attacks my senses – are there cows nearby? Further up the hill I meet a herd of Highland Cattle and Herefords lying in the lush green grass, silently chewing their cud, winter diet of sour silage now forgotten. All are facing in the same direction, as though toward Mecca. But see only the grey motorway bridge, which is nearing completion, perhaps observing the progress made since last autumn.

In the distance, giant the earth-moving machines are putting the final pimping touches to the brutal concrete flyover. The cows’ silent whisking of tails and monotonous chewing appear lethargic when compared with the drone-like swooping of the black swallows overhead. Their target is the flies which are constant followers of the herd.

Police sirens in the distance reveal that all is still not calm in nearby Husby, after nights of rioting. The usual stuff – burning cars, smashing windows and the usual culprits – disaffected youth.

Today the area has been invaded by a herd of media people, on their annual visit to a problem suburb. Like the cows, all facing in the same direction and chewing their cud. The hooligans have got more media space than the local activists, despite their organisation named Megaphone. Unfamiliar with press attention, the moderate activists call for understanding and an end to structural segregation and discrimination. But this is repeated against a backdrop of a masked hooligan, Molotov cocktail already burning. Give us jobs, give us education, stop police brutality, we want a public enquiry and apology by the police, or else…  The tired politicians trot out their patent solutions from afar, safe in their electronic havens, while the media hacks speed off to make their six o’clock deadline.

–E. Gandy