Policing of violence at Cardiff Gaza protest 'poor'

Violence broke out as marchers made their way past bars on Mill Lane. Video posted by Ian James

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Police have been criticised over their handling of a protest march in Cardiff after video footage emerged of violence erupting during it.

Bar stools and glasses were thrown as 1,500 people opposed to Israel's military action in Gaza took part.

MP Stephen Doughty has raised concerns and a Newport councillor said South Wales Police's policing was "poor".

Two men were arrested but neither were from the rally and the force later defended its operation.

Ch Insp Dan Howe said: "The police were there to ensure the safety of everyone involved and the vast majority of people behaved in a calm and sensible way, however extra officers attended to provide reassurance to the community.

"Unfortunately not all of those in Cardiff yesterday afternoon were well-behaved and violence broke out with a small minority which disrupted an otherwise peaceful demonstration.

He added: "Disruption was kept to a minimum and the rally went on to conclude peacefully and we are grateful for the support we received from the local community."

Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty, who took part in the rally organised by organisations including Cardiff Stop the War Coalition, had earlier raised concerns over the policing.

Mr Doughty told BBC Wales: "I've had a number of conversations with the police about the events and I'm assured the police are investigating the matter thoroughly.

'Unpleasant things'

"There were police and PCSOs and they were monitoring the situation.

"I was taking part in the march and I witnessed the incident on St Mary Street.

"The march itself was very peaceful but there were some unpleasant things being said from outside and I think some guys were throwing things from outside the Walkabout.

"I didn't witness the incident on Mill Lane but I spoke to some people straight after saying glasses had been thrown. I phoned the police immediately."

Newport councillor Majid Rahman said the marchers heard racist chants as they made their way past Walkabout on St Mary Street before the violence erupted on Mill Lane.

"A lot of marchers were injured but because there was no police presence, the people who hurled glasses, tables and chairs got away with it," he said.

CCTV footage

"South Wales Police were poor - it was a lack of presence.

"When I got back to City Hall, I saw two police officers then a van of police officers turned up, but by then it was too late because we were back safe at City Hall.

"The response was inadequate, it was poor and they need to answer for this."

After the rally a man, 22, from Caerphilly, was arrested for assault and a 33-year-old man from Pontypridd for affray.

Neither were from the rally group, police said.

Both have been bailed pending further inquiries and police are speaking to witnesses and examining footage of the event.

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