Exactly ten years ago an European Union summit was held in my hometown Gothenburg, featuring George Bush, Tony Blair, Jaques Chirac and other suits. The situation was a bit tense, since previous meetings had stirred major demonstrations and hostilities in Nice, Seattle and Amsterdam. This was a few months before the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the world seemed smaller.
I was in Boston at the time. I remember waking up and reading the morning paper where the headline was “President Bush going to Goteboorg, Sweden”. The next day I saw a newspaper frontpage where a policeman on horse was brutally pushing a young masked man against a wall. Then I saw the caption beneath it: “Riots in Goteboorg, Sweden”.
I browsed through all media I could find to discover the details. Heard from friends and their friends who were caught in the middle of it all. At this time the media world was less online, so we only received short bits and pieces from friends and relatives back home by telephone since we had no web access in our cell phones. We heard strange tales of burning streets and cobblestones being thrown at policemen wearing encounter suits.
Today ten years have passed. These days very few people talk about the riots and it feels a lot longer than ten years. I recently watched a documentary where they interviewed the young man who was shot in the stomach by the police and nearly died. Today he is 30 years old and released from prison, but he claims he would do it all over again if he had to.
The decisions taken back in 2001 likely still have a lot of influence on the way demonstrations are held in Sweden these days.