Migrants in Gothenburg, Sweden have the local police on special alert at the country’s leading mall. Many are afraid to visit Nordstan mall, as citizens are openly harassed and even attacked.
Local police are also being intimidated, and have been forced to implement special measures due to an increase in threatening behavior toward shoppers and business owners.
Sales are reported to have taken a massive hit. Although not the largest mall in Sweden, Nordstan is said to bring in the most business.
According to a Swedish paper, trouble starts around 8pm, once the shops begin closing. In some cases, the gangs of young people outnumber the police.
“We have seen an increase since last autumn, with mostly unaccompanied minors who are staying here in Nordstan,” one of the police managers, Jonas Bergqvist, told Expressen.
“In the evening they deal drugs and violence between fractions sometimes occurs. If there are conflicts from their home countries, they bring them here.”
Police also say the gangs are becoming increasingly aggressive towards them.
Bergqvist remembers a group of teens numbering around 150 people, who surrounded him and his colleagues around New Year’s Eve during an operation.
Authorities view this rise in cases as going hand in hand with the increased arrival of undocumented migrants, as incidents particularly involve youths from Syria, Afghanistan, and Morocco – some of them street children.
Some incidents escalate to seriously dangerous situations: one teenager was said to have been robbed with broken glass held to his throat. A shopkeeper had tried to intervene, but was also threatened.
There are legal problems with bringing offenders to justice, as many lack identification. This forces the police to hand over the offenders to social services.
“I’ve had people in front of me that look like they are 35, but who claim to be 15. I can’t prove they’re lying so we have to release them,” Rikard Sorensen, another officer, says.
As a result, the shopping mall becomes a place of almost total lawlessness after 8pm, joining other spots in Sweden now labeled as no-go zones, according to the local media report. To be considered a no-go zone, the area usually has to be marked by a dangerous incidence of muggings, robberies, harassment, and sexual assault. In September 2016, the number reportedly rose to 55 areas.