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Joakim Palmkvist on gang shootings in Malmö – and what shoud be done

Joakim Palmkvist is the author of several books and a long time crime reporter for Sydsvenskan. His new book Den undre världen is a historical and personal reflection on the criminal underworld of Malmö.

Your previous book about gang crime in Malmö was called Maffiakrig (Mafia War). Can you talk about a mafia in Malmö? What other terms could be used to describe organized crime here?
Not a mafia in the sense of the Sicilian kind, with a firmly designated leader and hierarchy and people taking a blood oath and the like. But a mafia does exist, on the other hand, in the sense of a parallel society, a criminal underworld with its own rules and laws and an alternative administration of justice. In this regard, we have a clear mafia culture that is evident throughout the country.

What kind of groups are involved in the current conflicts in Malmö?
There are no separate and clear groups, but rather liquid constellations consisting a couple of hundred young people. 

Are the older generations excluded from these conflicts? What is the role of biker gangs and ex-Yugoslav networks today?
Really, this is a question that really needs its own book to sort out. But to keep it short: there are individuals left from the ex-Yugoslav networks of varying capacity. The motorcycle gangs, in the sense of Hells Angels and Bandidos, are still active, but considerably less visible compared to before. The assessment is that they act as guarantors or culprits for other criminal schemes.

Why does Malmö stand out in this context?
Malmö doesn’t. The situation is the same in the other big cities in Sweden. Malmö is special due to it being a little smaller and more geographically compact than Göteborg or Stockholm, which means that the groups and networks are closer to each other.

What do you think is the most important factor in reversing the trend?
Breaking the culture of silence in any and all ways possible. For example, by facilitating witness testimony and making it easier to be a witness, and even using state witnesses and anonymous witnesses in exceptional cases. Very large resources need to be invested in helping people to drop out of criminal gangs and to testify against and incriminate their former fellow gang members.

Swaypod wants to create a platform for a new wave of Malmö artists

Who are you and what is Swaypod?
My name is Swayze and I am from Möllevången, Malmö. I love hip hop and RnB. I understood early on what hip hop and RnB means and fell in love with the music. My podcast is called Swaypod and it’s about just that, hip hop and RnB. One of the biggest reasons I created this podcast is because I want to be part of creating a platform for my city. Malmö may not have the streams like the other big cities, but we have the art.

What makes Malmö special with regards to music?
The hip hop and the singing that’s coming right now from Malmö, it doesn’t get more authentic than that. It’s a combination of all Malmö’s colors, it has its roots in the street but it can appeal to everyone. We are from the south, so automatically it has made us more receptive to being influenced by other countries. Therefore we bring a special rhythm and vocal style into the Swedish hip hop industry. Those who have done this and are continuing to do it to a great extent are living legends for us: Guleed, Ozzy and Leslie Tay.

What new artists should we keep an eye on?
There are so many. Of course, one should mention our kings Guleed, Ozzy and Leslie Tay. There are also new up and coming artists. There is a collective to keep an eye on, the product of what has been fermenting in Malmö in recent years: the rapper Mazzo and the producers Rico and Max Moreau. Listen to their song Jag Vet which is out now everywhere. 9liv and Fahido are two other new acts that should be mentioned.

Three classic, essential Malmö songs according to Swaypod:

Guleed – Besatt

Ozzy – Marilyn of Rosengard

Leslie Tay – Sofie

Here is why Malmö is the best city in Sweden for food lovers

Jonas from Malmö För Foodisar joined us to explain why the infamous city on the border to Denmark is numero uno.

Why is Malmö the best city in Sweden when it comes to food?
The mixture of cuisines from different cultures, combined with curious hard-working restaurant owners who dare to do their own thing, and a Napoleon complex has created a cocky, tongue-in-cheek, local patriotic fuck you attitude. Malmö’s proximity to Copenhagen, one of the world’s leading food cities in recent years with Noma at the helm, has meant that many local chefs and sommeliers have found work there thereby gaining access to schooling and competition on a world level, and subsequently returning to Malmö to do their own thing.

What trends have dominated in Malmö starting in the 2000s until today, among restaurants and in the fast food market?
The most obvious trend is, of course, a complete inflation of falafel, which is both heaven and hell for various reasons, which we could devote an entire TedTalk on. But other than that I do not know if it’s possible to talk about trends in the same way today. Often several things are happening and taking place in parallel in most cities in the west. One example is the kind of cultural upgrading that fast food such as pizza and burgers has seen, but that’s hardly unique for Malmö. If there are two things that have distinguished Malmö in the last 10 years, it is the availability and supply of natural wine, which we have enthusiasts like Vin & Natur to thank for, as well as the many Syrian restaurants that popped up after the wave of refugees a couple of years ago.

Why is food so cheap in Malmö?
The somewhat boring and pragmatic answer is that Malmö is a poor city and that restaurant owners have been forced to adjust prices to the local population’s wallets, for better or worse. I do not think you need to be a Nobel laureate in economics to realize that something is messed up when you can get really good food cooked from scratch by potential Michelin chefs at the same prices as McDonalds or the IKEA Restaurant.

Do you have any ideas for restaurants in these pandemic times?
Not really, nothing more than that we should all act thoughtfully and carefully and support the heroes of our local scene as much as our wallets allow. They struggle like hell, but the difference is that they have never received as little pay for the effort as in the last six months.

Jonas’ personal favorites that represent great things about Malmö:

1. Kaffebaren på Möllan
It’s run by one of my best friends. I used to live in the same building and I used the coffee bar as a public office for probably five years. If you want to experience a completely unique mix of cultures, social classes, ethnicities, hustlers, activists and local celebrities, this is the place.

2. Alis Orientaliska Bröd
Delivers falafel bread to every other falafel master in Malmö but it’s well worth a visit in it’s own right, especially for the Arabic breakfast with fatteh, hummus and manakish. This is where many manual laborers from Rosengård and other nearby districts fill up with protein before a day at work.

3. Lyran
The place I bring up every time an out-of-towner asks me where to eat a nice dinner. Fine Dining that never gets pretentious or stiff, focusing on local Scandinavian ingredients. I dare to say that it gives you one of the most affordable dining experiences in Sweden since the bill would end up doubling in other cities. It also has an excellent wine list that you can sample if you are not hungry.

Guleed and Ozzy use footage from Rosengård riots to great effect in Palm Angels video

Football players and gangland assassins are not the only ambitious young men from Malmö that are being talked about in Europe. Guleed and Ozzy are not only the best of their city, there are few rappers in all of Scandinavia who can compete on their level. For a year or two, and for some reason, they were not making music together. But since both of them appeared on RnB sensation Cherrie’s Kärt Barn, and their collaborative songs were the high-lights of their respective full-length releases, everything is good on Planet Malmö again.

Well, not everything. After Danish racists, in a much talked about act of provocation burned the Quran in Rosengård, the immigrant dominated working class area erupted in riots. Footage from these events were later edited to great effect into the video for Guleed and Ozzy’s latest street hit Palm Angels, which can be viewed below.

Welcome to Greater Malmö

Greater Malmö is the geographical area consisting of Malmö and neighbouring cities, with close to a million people calling the region home. There has been some focus on the Greater Copenhagen collaboration in recent years, “a political platform for promoting regional collaboration and economic growth”. While we welcome this vision, not the least since it pisses off the snobs in Stockholm who are now seeing the power center of Sweden shifting southwards, we think a more suitable name of the whole region would be Greater Malmö.

The focus of this blog is to ask writers and researchers to help us understand what is happening here, as well as to highlight some of the actors who are making this place better. People like to talk shit about our city, but to us, Malmö is pretty great. Still, it can become greater.