Parents and volunteers have been patrolling the streets of Stockholm’s immigrant-heavy suburbs to help quell riots that have raged for almost a week, serving as a successful deterrent to troublemakers and winning praise from police.
“They have helped a lot in reducing the unrest,” Stockholm police spokeswoman Karin Solberg said.
Sweden has since the 1980s had a network of volunteers called “Nightwalkers”, usually made up of parents who walk the streets of their own suburbs in groups on weekend nights, talking to youngsters and simply making their presence known. With their distinctive neon yellow windbreakers, their presence is aimed at deterring neighbourhood kids from getting into trouble.
They have no special authority to intervene if trouble arises, are armed only with flashlights and wear no uniform other than their colourful jackets.
In the six nights of riots that have left cars and buildings torched in Stockholm’s immigrant-dominated suburbs, the volunteers’ mission has been to protect schools, libraries and youth centres.
“We have changed our strategy. In the beginning, we would walk around in the neighbourhood. Now we stay put,” explained Aleks Sakala, an IT consultant who was on Nightwalker duty. Kista is a mixed suburb, known as Stockholm’s Silicon Valley for its high-tech industry, Ericsson has its headquarters.