Riots, looting and violence against civilians and police officers erupted in a Stockholm suburb Monday night, just days after President Donald Trump appeared to falsely claim that Sweden has seen a rise in terror attacks because of its immigration policies.
The chaos began around 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EST) after police arrested a suspect in Rinkeby, a predominantly immigrant neighborhood about 10 miles north of downtown Stockholm. After, crowds of young people converged on the area, and began throwing rocks at officers, according to multiple reports.
Rioters also set cars on fire, smashed windows and looted shops, and assaulted civilians. A press photographer was reportedly kicked and punched in the head by at least a dozen people and had his camera stolen. No arrests were made in his assault.
— War_Reporter (@War_Reporter_) February 21, 2017
The frenzy lasted about four hours. A police spokesman told a Swedish newspaper that an officer fired shots at a rioter, but didn’t strike his target. An officer also was slightly injured when a rock struck his arm.
As of 2007, more than 89 percent of Rinkeby’s population had a first- or second-generation immigrant background.
Just two days prior, Trump had named Sweden in a listof European countries that were plagued by a wave of terror attacks because of their refugee policies.
"You look at what's happening last night in Sweden," Trump told crowds at a campaign rally in Melbourne, Florida. "Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible."
Trump went on to name Paris, Nice, France, Germany and Brussels — cities that have experienced attacks in the last two years — after criticizing the legal challenges his travel ban has incurred.
The president’s comments baffled Swedish officials, including Prime Minister Carl Bildt, who asked on Twitter what Trump “has been smoking,” and linking to a Huffington Post article claiming Trump had invented a terror attack the night prior.
Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound. https://t.co/XWgw8Fz7tj— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 19, 2017
Trump later clarified on Twitter,explainingthat his information had come from a Fox News feature. Many believe the president is referencing an interviewthat aired Feb. 17 with host Tucker Carlson and filmmaker Ami Horowitz, whose documentary purported to show a spate of violence that has, in fact, plagued Sweden, and the government has attempted to cover it up.
Horowitz later came under fire by two Stockholm officers he interviewed in the film, who called the filmmaker a "madman."
”We don’t stand behind it. It shocked us. He has edited the answers. We were answering completely different questions in the interview. This is bad journalism," one of the officers toldSwedish media.
A White House spokesperson told reporters Sunday that Trump was referring to a general rise in crime, not a specific incident.
While Sweden has reported anuptick in crime in recent years, there's little evidence that suggests its influx of immigrants is to blame.
A criminology professor toldFactCheck.orgin an email that a large influx of refugees in a short time can put a strain on a country like Sweden, "but these problems are exaggerated greatly by populist movements that are ideologically close to Mr. Trump."
Sweden has granted asylum to nearly 200,000 people since the summer of 2015 — more per capita than any other European nation — andmostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
This also isn't the first time the Trump administration falsely referred to a terrorist attack. Counselor Kellyanne Conway famously made up the "Bowling Green massacre" and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer mistakenly referred to a terror attack in Atlanta, later clarifying he meant Orlando, Florida.