04 maj 2006

A translation

Since a few international readers have been interested in this story, and the retellings in existence are abysmally lacking, I've decided to translate the whole story and post it here.

May Day, aftermath

It all began at Järntorget, where Gothenburg's socialists (syndicalists, leftwingers, communists and social democrats) had all gathered to demonstrate against themselves.

I, Daniel Berntsson and Carl Jakobsson (both of whom are also members of Liberala partiet [a small Swedish political party - ideologically similar to the American Libertarian Party - where I'm a committee member]) also gathered there, in order to help protest against the leftists.

Wanting to be part of the bigger group, we took inspiration from the Internationale, and had made a beautiful banderole with a phrase from the song:

Our beautiful banderole
Losely: "Both state and laws oppress us, taxes make us collapse"

We positioned ourselves at a place where we'd be easy to see for all the demonstrators, and waited for them to begin walking. It didn't take long for the socialists' jeers to begin, but one of the communists felt bad for us for being oppressed and poor, so he threw us a krona [Swedish currency].

When all processions had left, we folded our beautiful banderole and headed towards Götaplatsen, where SAP [The Socialdemocratic Worker's Party] and LO [The Swedish Trade Union Confederation] were to have their great assembly.

Walking up Avenyn [a famous avenue in Gothenburg] we were met by the following scene, with massive totalitarian undertones, reminiscent of Nazi Germany, Equilibrium and V for Vendetta:
SAP und LO über alles

A impressively huge brick building (The Museum of Culture) with both banners of the Movement draped over the front wall, a multitude of veteran socialists sitting in the place of honor in front of the podium of the Great Leader, gazing out over the assembled People.

Following our urge to watch the spectacle, we headed up towards the statue of Poseidon and finally unrolled our banderole at the stairs to the Concert House.

Only a few minutes later, a social democratic functionary came and told us to remove the banderole. We simply said that we had every right to be there, and that we intended to stay. But woe unto him who tries to stand against the sociocracy! The man rushed us and tore our banderole to the ground.

Naturally we picked it up again, but shortly thereafter the second social democrat came to tell us to remove it. We flatly refused, so he threatened with the police. Now, we're not prone to giving in to empty threats, so we simply tell him to fetch the cops and let them decide.

The man immediately went to a group of police officers at the other side of the square, and quickly returned with two policemen, one of whom carried very large sunglasses, making it hard to identify him.

Almost at once, the cops told us to get rid of the banderole. I've always believed that you'd be told what you were doing wrong before they'd start trying to boss you around, but apparently not. The policeman with sunglasses tore the banderole out of my hands, and started folding it up while Daniel protested loudly.

Daniel demands to be told what law they enforce when trying to stop us from standing there. After stalling and avoiding the question for a long time, they finally suggest Polislagen §13:

If anyone, through his behaviour, disturbs the peace, or constitute an immediate danger to it, a policeman is allowed to remove him from the area. The same applies if such a measure is required in order to avoid a punishable act.
If a measure such as described in the first paragraph insufficient to avoid the act in question, the person may be temporarily apprehended. [my translation]

First of all, we didn't disturb anyone, we stood quietly with our banderole at the top of the stairs of the Concert House, quite some distance from the procession walking towards the square. We didn't shout anything, we certainly weren't trying to pick a fight with anyone. So, in conclusion, we were no threat to the peace. If anything, the first social democrat who tore down our banner was.

Another argument the police used against us was that we had no demonstration permission. Well, you aren't really required to have such a permit in Sweden. This is what the socialists themselves [swedish] write:

The right to demonstrate is so important that it's written in the very first paragraphs of the constitution. The application for a demonstration permission is pure formality, the purpose of which is to allow the police to coordinate the traffic [my translation]

No sane person would be able to claim that three youths with a banderole, at the top of a staircase, in any way or form constitutes a traffic situation so severe that it requires police control. Clearly, this is all just hot air.

At this point, Daniel has his camera running, filming as much as he can. He demands to know why we're not allowed to stand there, when we're not doing anything illegal. When Daniel tries to film the face of the cop, he shoves the camera away and tells us to stop filming, shortly followed by an ultimatum; "You have to alternatives: either you leave voluntarily, or we will move you forcibly". Moments later Daniel asks what the name of the cop is, but apparently, that's none of our concern.

After a while, the policemen grow weary and one of them leaves to fetch backup against us horrible, revolutionary youths who keep standing still and talking. A third social democrat arrives and asks if we're having problems. To begin with, he's really nice and seems genuinely concerned about the police causing us problems, but when Daniel points out that we're not allowed to know the names of the police, the man throws a fit and yells at us that we should know to obey the police without question. Obviously, the law is sacred and not to be questioned. Even when there's no law to invoke, the word of the police is law. Humbug...

Surprisingly, the cop left to watch us, tells the irritated socialist democrate to leave the area and leave us alone.

Later, when Daniel begins talking to the solitary police, we're told that our crime is to have an oppinion contrary to the Movement. Freedom of speech for teh win!

After a few minutes, the sunglass-wearing police returns with a colleague and these two officers grab hold of Daniel -- the one of us brave enough to stand up to the policemen and demanding to know our crime -- and escort him through the mob to the police bus parked at the other side of the square, where he as summarily body searched and his backpack investigated. I and Carl followed the small procession to ensure that Daniel was to be treated fairly. After speaking to us a short while, the policemen place Daniel in a police bus and drive him to Redbergsplatsen [a small square quite a distance away] where he is dropped off. We're now forbidden to return to Götaplatsen with our banderole.

On the whole, I have to say that this has been my most interesting May day experience to date. I've never been threatened by police before, and I've never had an irascible social democratic functionary out to get me.

I'm voting for a rematch next year, and then I'll bring my own camera.

Here are the films Daniel managed to shoot, all in Swedish:
1, A short snippet right after the first social democrat has torn down our banderole and is leaving
2, The ending of our conversation with the second social democrat
3, The police try to take our banderole, shove the camera away, explains that we have no right to know their names and other things
4, The second police tells us we aren't allowed to have a message contrary to that of the socialists, after which the backup arrives


Blogger The_Great_Below said...

Alla svenska liberaler bör se till att sprida denna beskrivning av hur det verkligen går till i Sverige till internationella/utländska sidor. Människor utanför Sveriges gränser tror i stor utsträckning att sådant här aldrig skulle kunna hända i "socialistparadiset" Sverige. Nu kan de se med egna ögon att de totalitära strömningarna är starkare här än i de flesta västerländska länderna.


05 maj, 2006 18:02  
Blogger Wolfenstein said...

Jag har skapat ett inlägg om den på vengansas forum

05 maj, 2006 20:19  
Blogger Alkanen said...


05 maj, 2006 20:30  
Anonymous Anonym said...

The Internationale, text:

Original French:
L'état comprime et la loi triche
L'impôt saigne le malheureux
The state strangles and the law cheats,
The taxes bleed the disadvantaged in society.

From Russian version:
Enough sucking blood, vampires.
Prison, taxes, poverty!
You have all authority, all the blessings of the world.
But our rights - an empty sound!

As MP3:

05 maj, 2006 21:19  
Anonymous estoves said...

Har gjort en tråd om det på
Går inte att direktlänka men det ligger i General Discussion.

05 maj, 2006 21:21  
Blogger Alkanen said...

Jodå Estoves, jag har allt fixat en direktlänkning i spridningstråden =)

05 maj, 2006 21:38  
Blogger Timothy A. Logsdon said...

For standing up for your rights, I commend you. I was wondering if you would be able to use the video as evidence to press charges against the cop with the sunglasses. I believe he stepped beyond the bounds of his authority. You may be able to have him charged with assault. Next time you may want to have some friends videotaping, but not demonstrating or doing anything that would attract the ire of the police or other oppressors.

06 maj, 2006 19:24  
Blogger Alkanen said...


We're going to file a lawsuit (or whatever the correct legal term is, my legalese is pretty bad =) against the cop on monday, I believe.

We hope that the film is enough evidence.

Yeah, next time we'll be better prepared in terms of documenting the whole event. We never expected anything like this to happen, so we didn't think we'd need a real video camera.

We also have to know the laws better by heart. Being able to cite the exakt paragraph that protects your right to be there will probably help a lot.

06 maj, 2006 19:38  
Blogger Joacim Persson said...

"From Russian version:
Enough sucking blood, vampires."

The russian version sure has colourful lyrics. ;)
Vysotskij "The wolf hunt" could do nicely too. (For which there indeed is a Swedish translation.)

One to me completely unknown aquaintance is rumoured to have been sneaking about at night during the last elections, painting vampire fangs and wild staring eyes on the candidates' faces on election posters for the social-democratic party in a small town. Except of course on the face of the minister of finance at the time, whom looked scary enough as he was. (That man is simply not capable of producing a convincing smile.)

08 maj, 2006 01:11  
Blogger LJOSSBERIR said...

Hi, greetings from New York! Heard about this story on Free Talk Live. That is terrible what they did to you.. keep standing up for your rights!

12 maj, 2006 08:11  
Blogger Alkanen said...

Hi ljossberir!

I just heard last night's show myself. I never thought they'd read the whole thing! Never thought they'd mock by language abilities either, but I guess you have to take the bad with the good =)

We certainly plan to keep standing up for our rights =)

12 maj, 2006 12:36  

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