Police said they were prepared to “robustly deal” with rioters, should they return for a second day of violence in Swansea. Officials branded the public disturbance “appalling” and “completely unacceptable”.
The unexpected spree of violence in the Mayhill area of the coastal city erupted on Thursday evening at around 8:00pm. Officers brought the situation under control in the early hours of Friday morning. An estimated 200 people were involved in the riot, which left vehicles destroyed by fire and houses damaged.
Videos shot at the scene showed people vandalizing a car before rolling it down a steep street toward a vehicle on fire further down the hill, as others filmed and cheered.
What the hell is going on in Swansea? pic.twitter.com/vU4wrFPzU4
— Rhys (@SCFC_Rhys2) May 20, 2021
At another point, a police van was confronted by several men, who kicked it and pelted it with projectiles, forcing it to retreat.
Mayhill (2/2) pic.twitter.com/XN4ybmmmek
— Nathan (@Cyanotle) May 20, 2021
According to some unconfirmed reports, a dog’s fur was set on fire during the riot, though, as of Friday, it remains unconfirmed other than anecdotally.
A number of residents were trapped in their houses as the rioting took place outside. Adam Romain, a father-of-two, said he feared the mob would target his family. Images he shared showed glass panes in the window and front door smashed to pieces, reportedly after the protesters hurled bricks at his home.
Others said the police failed to protect them from the dangerous crowd, criticizing what they described as an underwhelming response. This may have had a grain of truth in it, judging by remarks made by Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Gilmer, who said, “Our officers should not expect to have to confront situations like this.”
💬 ACC Jenny Gilmer: “These are scenes we don't expect in our communities and our officers should not expect to have to confront situations like this.
“I want to reassure residents of Mayhill that we shall be maintaining an enhanced police presence throughout the weekend."
— South Wales Police (@swpolice) May 21, 2021
“If those involved choose to return and further threaten public safety, they will be robustly dealt with,” she added, pledging to investigate the crimes committed. The police asked members of the community to share any photo and video evidence they might have to help “identify and arrest those responsible.”
MPs were quick to denounce the riot. First Minister Mark Drakeford said such events were “completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated anywhere in Wales”. Home Secretary Priti Patel called the scenes “absolutely disgraceful”, and offered her backing to the local police.
The violent scenes in Swansea last night were completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated anywhere in Wales.
Thank you @SWPSwansea for bringing the situation under control and continuing to monitor it closely this morning.
— Mark Drakeford (@fmwales) May 21, 2021
Meanwhile, Swansea’s residents have been dealing with the aftermath, and have had to clean up the debris and repair the damage left behind. The locals were “pretty much appalled and disgusted” by what had happened, one of them told the media.
This is Mayhill in Swansea this morning after last night’s large scale disorder pic.twitter.com/fFn8dF1qUd
— David Grundy (@DavidGrundy) May 21, 2021
One resident in Swansea said she is "appalled" by the riot yesterday evening in Mayhill.
The clean-up operation is underway after cars were set on fire and houses vandalised.
— ITV Wales News (@ITVWales) May 21, 2021
The cause of the riot, if there was one, remains unknown. The police said on Thursday that the gathering of predominantly young men had started off as a vigil for a local resident, 19-year-old Ethan Powell. Powell had collapsed hours after watching Swansea City’s playoff game against Barnsley on television, his family said, adding that he would have been “heartbroken” had he known his death would have been linked to such disorder.
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