Hundreds of pensioners were expected to turn out on Thursday for the start of Fasth’s trial in front of the district court in Jönköping.
“We’re not coming her because we think what he did is right. But we are coming to stir debate,” Evald Larsson, chair of the Nässjö chapter of the Swedish pensioners association, Sveriges Pensionärsförbund (SPF), told the TT news agency.
With coffee and informational brochures waiting under a marquee, the group is ready for the bus loads of pensioners expected to descend on the city square outside the court house.
Emotions are running high for many of those gathered to support Fasth and they wonder how they should react when provocations from children and teenagers go too far.
“We don’t think it’s fun to be called an old witch or an old fart,” said Larsson.
The assault in question, minor in the eyes of prosecutor Liselotte Nilsson’s indictment, took place in July at Folkets Park in Värnamo in south central Sweden.
Fasth, who has been a volunteer at the park since the 1960s, slapped a 12-year-old boy who called the pensioner an old fart (‘gubbjävel’) and then began riding his bicycle across the park’s miniature golf course.
“I don’t regret a thing,” Fasth told TT.
“They really raise hell with all that horsing around.”
According to the 70-year-old, he has not yet succeeded in ridding himself of the young trouble makers.
If anything, he said, things have got worse.
“There are 10 to 15 young people and they don’t care. They continue to shatter lights, use graffiti, set fires, and break everything in sight,” he said.
Larsson plans to hold a speech under the tent today to ask if this is the kind of society people want to live in.
“We have to reflect on how young people can be put on the right path and we have to challenge politicians to talk about this without fear of losing votes,” he said.
Fasth has admitted his guilt in the incident and is ready to accept whatever punishment is meted out.
“I have no expectations,” he said.
“But it’s good that the public has opened its eyes for how life for an older person can be.”
He has already received several donations to help cover the expected fines he will receive, and more keep coming in.
He plans to donate any surplus left over after the fines are paid to Folkets Park.