Speaking out in a frank interview with a local Swedish newspaper, a young migrant has explained how boredom and racism has driven him and his friends to violently vandalising property for amusement.
An investigation by the Vestmanlands Läns Tidning newspaper (VLT) into the frequent arsons that occur in the Swedish city of Västerås has come to a conclusive end, with a confession from a number of young migrant males regarding the destructive behaviour.
Speaking to the newspaper, one of a group of these migrants described as wearing black hoods and loitering outside a recently burnt-down shopping centre, was blunt when he said: “Some feel good to burn cars”. The unnamed male identifies disappointment in society and harassment by police as the main motivations for the arson.
Another young man tells the paper by email — he refuses to meet the journalist in person — that he and his friends feel pre-judged by native Swedes, and are discriminated against. Complaining that when locals witness acts of violent damage they don’t stop to consider the reasons behind it, he remarked:
“When a car burns everyone here thinks [the perpetrators] are animals and idiots. People don’t know how young people are discriminated against every day… We only get noticed when the cars burn. I think young people are using it as a cry for help.”
A police spokesman specialising in dealing with these young migrant criminals — generally aged between 13 and 30 — told the VLT that there have been dozens of car arson cases in various suburbs of the city this year so far, but there has not been a single prosecution or even an attempt at prosecution “in years”.
In the case of the burning of a school in the city — which also spread to neighbouring homes — those five found guilty for the attack were sentenced to less than two years for the crime.
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The VLT also reproduces, in full, the rationale given by one young man for the attacks. Explaining he is “one of those who came to Sweden at an early age”, the unnamed migrant says: “It’s clear as hell that we take out our frustration by destroying and vandalising.”
Claiming to have been discriminated against because of his race, the man says: “The adults in the area look at us as if we are animals or abnormal”. Calling for the government to take action to alleviate their own boredom, the migrant states: “I believe it is cheaper to buy and create some positive things for [his neighbourhood] than the money spent on insurance payouts, and call-outs for the fire department for these car fires.”
Judging by the reaction to the reportage by VLT, it may be that the young men setting fire to cars because they feel upset at the poor reputation they enjoy among locals may merely be reinforcing the stereotype. In an angry letter to the editor following the article, a local going by the pseudonym “A former motorist of the town” asks caustically: “Do you think this prattle will make people feel sorry for you?”
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