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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
Gothenburgers count the cost
Gothenburg's main shopping street littered with cobblestones after clashes between police and protesters
Sweden's second city has never seen anything like it
By BBC News Online's Lars Bevanger in Gothenburg

It wasn't supposed to happen. Yet by Friday afternoon, Gothenburgers were assessing the damage done to their town after violent clashes between hundreds of protesters and police.

The pavements down the city's main shopping street, Avenyn, were littered with broken glass.

Click here to see map of the region

Elsewhere stretches of pavement were simply missing, as protesters had helped themselves to cobblestones to use as missiles against mounted police.

Further along lay a smouldering pile of chairs and tables from an outdoor café. Rioters had thrown them together before setting fire to them.

Unrecognisable

People were walking around with baffled expressions, while others stood in little groups talking about what they had just witnessed.

Anne-Mari, a woman in her fifties, had been out shopping when the trouble started.

"I had to run to avoid the stones. It is terrible what has happened here.

Gothenburgers Ingrid and Anne-Mari
Ingrid and Anne-Mari can't believe what has happened in their city
"I am not for the EU, but I am definitely not for violence," she says, looking up at the shattered façade of a fast food restaurant.

"I don't recognise Gothenburg."

Her friend Ingrid is equally taken aback.

"I never would have thought this could happen here."

Unprecedented

Neither, it seems, did the main organisers of the protests nor the police. Both sides had been speaking highly of the good dialogue between them ahead of the summit.

Sweden, let alone Gothenburg, has never seen anything like this. Many of the police here have been drafted in from small towns all around the country.


A sad day for Gothenburg, a sad day for Sweden

Lars Unoviking, police inspector
Most of them have no experience in dealing with situations like this.

Lars Unoviking, a police inspector from the south-eastern city of Norkoping, says even after 30 years as a police officer he has never witnessed anything on this scale.

"This is sad for Gothenburg, sad for Sweden," he says.

Swedish police inspector Lars Unoviking
Police inspector Lars Unoviking is saddened by the violence
Orjan Bergstern is one of the main organisers of demonstrations during the EU summit. He calls what has happened a disaster.

"It's just the kind of activities we were trying to avoid."

The Swedish Prime Minister, Goran Persson said: "This is a blatant disregard for democracy and unworthy of a society such as ours."

Public protest has deep roots and proud traditions in Sweden. Swedish grassroots are used to being consulted by those in power.

The people of Gothenburg and Sweden might feel broken windows and uprooted pavements do not serve to further this dialogue.



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See also:

14 Jun 01 | Europe
In pictures: Gothenburg protests
14 Jun 01 | Europe
Swedes still sceptical about EU
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