Police have announced extra patrols in Swansea over the weekend after violent riots following a teenager’s sudden death.
‘Hundreds’ of people were said to have been involved in the disorder, which started at around 8pm on Thursday, May 20, in what police said they believed began as a ‘vigil’ for teenager Ethan Powell.
A relative of the 19-year-old, who collapsed hours after watching Swansea City’s playoff game against Barnsley on television with his grandfather on Tuesday evening, has said since that the event was connected to his sudden death, one of a number of planned gatherings to remember him, but that they were horrified at what had ended up happening. More events are planned for this weekend, but are hoped to be trouble-free.
During the night crowds of people were seen chanting and cheering as a car was pushed down a steep hill into bollards and another vehicle while another car was set alight. Photos show two cars on fire in the middle of the street surrounded by smoke while the crowds gathered around them.
Devastating images also show completely torched cars of local residents and extensive damage to nearby properties. While a video also showed people throwing objects and shouting at retreating police using riot shields in the disturbance which an eyewitness estimated involved around 200 people.
Footage also shows a mob attacking, kicking and hurling objects at a police van as it attempts to leave the scene. The crowd can be seen violently attacking the van as it reverses away slowly. Other videos show officers in riot gear and shields having things thrown at them as people scream, laugh and film it. As one man picks up what looks like a stone or a brick, someone shouts, “Put it through!” He then hurls it at the police van. A large crate is also thrown at the van’s windscreen. As the van reverses, people can be heard screaming in encouragement of the attacks on the van.
On the night a number of people rushed to the aid of the victims of the incident, including one man who went up there to board up windows and doors for residents ‘left in the lurch’.
South Wales Police said it had upped patrols over the upcoming weekend as further vigils are planned in memory of Ethan. At least two vigils are due to take place on Saturday evening – one, a balloon release at Lidl Football Field in Trallwn at 5.30pm, and the second, another similar tribute at St Stephen’s Church – but organisers have pleaded with attendees that they do not want any trouble.
A South Wales Police spokesperson said: “South Wales Police is investigating the scenes of violent disorder which happened in the Mayhill area of Swansea last night (Thursday 20 th May). The police response to the incident was immediate and officers trained to deal with public order incidents were deployed to the scene.
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Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Gilmer said: “These are scenes we do not expect to see in our communities and our officers should not expect to have to confront situations like this when they go to work at the start of their shift. I want to reassure the residents of Mayhill that we shall be maintaining an enhanced police presence throughout the weekend.
“If those involved choose to return and further threaten public safety in the community of Mayhill they will be robustly dealt with. Our focus now is to fully investigate this appalling incident. We will be using CCTV and social media footage to help us to identify and arrest those responsible. The level of violence towards emergency services and the damage to buildings and vehicles was totally unacceptable.
“I would like to thank the public for their support and appeal to anyone with information or video footage to come forward and provide that to us.”
The police response to the incident has since been defended by Police Commissioner Alun Michael, although he has not ruled out an inquiry.
Anyone with any photographs or video footage is asked to submit them here: Public Portal (mipp.police.uk) or contact South Wales Police.