Police defend decision to grant neo-Nazis right to march
Gothenburg police commissioner Erik Nord tells Radio Sweden that the freedom of assembly applies to all, including the far-right Nordic Resistance Movement.
The Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) is planning to hold a rally in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, on September 30th, but this week Sweden's Official Council of Jewish Communities appealed the police's decision to grant the far-right group a demonstration permit.
The march will take place during the Gothenburg Book Fair, which is the second largest book fair in Europe, and on the high Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
Some want the march to take a different route, so that it will not pass near the local synagogue. Others want it to be cancelled.
Erik Nord, a police commissioner in Gothenburg, said the police must uphold the freedom of assembly, a constitutional right in Sweden.
"At the end of the day, you can have a demonstration even if you're a Nazi," Nord told Radio Sweden. "The only way we can limit that right is if the demonstration disrupts public order or safety."
Nord said he understand that there is “a great symbolic value in this matter, that Nazis are demonstrating on the streets”. However, he added, that is not something the police should weigh in when considering an application for a demonstration permit.
Nord insisted that the law must be applied equally for all, including the Nordic Resistance Movement.
Nord added that, while the police has not received any other demonstration permit applications for September 30th, they know that “quite a few” counter-demonstrators are likely to show up in Gothenburg on that day. Among others, the radical Left Antifa group is mobilising, and many are using social media to organise protests.
“We know that there will be counter-demonstrators there but not all of them are violent,” said Nord, adding that the police will try to keep the demonstrators and counter-demonstrators apart in order to avoid violence and threats to public safety.
Listen to the interview in full by clicking the link above.