I’ve written previously about the modern liberal conviction that dialogue is all that’s necessary to solve any political issue. Last weekend the Swedish police put that theory into practice: to implement a new strategy during demonstrations in Malmö last Friday, police fielded a special unit known as the “Dialogue Police”.
A reader in Sweden has translated excerpts from an article in Dagens Nyheter:
The police are investing in talking
The new police line concerning violent demonstrators is termed dialogue and respect. Gone are the shields and the line formations.
“All participants in this kind of action are trained under our new concept,” said police officer Eva-Gun Westford who was on the spot in Malmö on Friday.
After the Gothenburg Cravalles in 2001, where police and demonstrators clashed in violent confrontations, there was discussion about how the police should handle potentially violent protesters. One result is the concept that was used during demonstrations in Malmö on Friday evening.
A new police tactic is employed against demonstrators and larger crowds, where communication is used now instead of confrontation and repression. Specially trained dialogue police (Dialog Polis) officers are dealing with the demonstrators’ leaders.
Do you think that those who smashed the windows and assaulted the man had respect for others this evening?
– – – – – – – – –
“I have really no idea about that. We knew that they would come, we followed them and dialogued with them, we have some damage to SE-Banken, which was badly burnt, some stones and bottles were thrown, but no arrests. We would still describe this as relatively calm.”
If this had happened on a normal night, would you have arrested someone, then?
“It is not certain that we would have been able to make any arrests even then. But the circumstances now are somewhat extraordinary this evening.”
So the police are satisfied that it was not worse? It is worth the “little” damage that has occurred anyway?
“I am grateful that more did not happen.”
Eva-Gun Westford has been a cop for 35 years and remembers how the previous tactics could develop into serious confrontation.
“Then we stood up in line as if it were the worst war, and chased them with batons and shields along the streets of Malmö. Now we are having this dialogue and we think that is most important. So far, I think that this concept wins.”
From another source:
The Good Activists in Malmö smashed shop windows and the big panes of a (capitalist) bank with paving stones. A passing civilian who got fragments of glass all over himself became so angry that he threw back one of the paving stones. Immediately he was attacked by a black-masked crowd and was knocked to the ground, where he was beaten while all those Good People standing around were cheering.
Twenty feet further away stood the Swedish Dialogue Police. No one intervened. Did not move a finger, but were videotaping the incident.
Note: As far as I can determine, the photos used in this post were taken by Anders Hansson.