Open letter calls for cases of those arrested for Ely riots to be dropped

Those who have signed the letter include experts in public health, members of Cardiff University and even Hollywood Director, Boots Riley. Credit: PA Images

There are calls for those arrested during the Ely riots in May to have their cases dropped.

An open letter, signed by more than 50 organisations and individuals has been sent to the First Minister and the Crown Prosecution Service urging for an amnesty following the deaths of Harvey Evans and Kyrees Sullivan.

The teenagers' deaths sparked disorder in the area after they died following a fatal crash on Snowden Road, in Ely, last month.

Twenty people have been arrested, including 17 males and 3 females, all of whom are aged between 14 and 36. At present no one has been charged for the incident.

Kyrees Sullivan (left) and Harvey Evans (right), who died in a crash in Ely in May. Credit: Family photo

Those who've signed the letter include experts in public health, members of Cardiff University and even Hollywood Director, Boots Riley.

In it they say: The unrest seen in Ely was an understandable emotional reaction to a tragedy that may or may not have been directly caused by the actions of South Wales Police. 

"Criminalising these young people, and destroying their futures, at a time when the community as a whole is grieving a terrible loss is something that makes no sense."

They added, "Going to court or even prison will harm their current and long term mental and physical health, access to work, education, and support."

The publishing group Cyhoeddiadau’r Stamp, says it backs calls for the cases to be dropped.

“We cannot ignore what the community in Ely are going through at this time, and we stand in solidarity with them in their loss.

"We hope, by signing this open letter, we are adding another voice in support of the calls to prevent further loss from a community which is already experiencing terrible grief, and to prevent further unnecessary harm to the young people there.”

A vigil to remember the boys was held shortly after their deaths.

Following the boys' deaths, South Wales Police referred itself to the police watchdog over its handling of the case.

CCTV footage emerged showing a police vehicle following a bike ahead of the fatal crash, but South Wales Police insisted there were no police vehicles on Snowden Road when the collision occurred.

Just after the incident, the force's Assistant Chief Constable Mark Travis said: “These are scenes we do not expect to see in our communities, particularly a close-knit community such as Ely.

“The level of violence towards emergency services and the damage to property and vehicles was totally unacceptable.

“Our focus now is to fully investigate the circumstances of the collision and the appalling scenes that followed.

“Arrests have already been made in connection with the disorder and more will follow.”

South Wales Police has declined to comment on the calls for an amnesty but has said that current inquiries are continuing.

Although criminal justice is not a devolved matter and is one for the UK Government, a Welsh Government spokesperson has said: "The FM will respond to this letter in due course.”

Meanwhile the force are now calling on anyone with information about disruption on Saturday 10 June following a public event to remember Harvey Evans and Kyrees Sullivan.

Police say road users and pedestrians were exposed to risk due to the way a large number of bikes and other motorists were driving in the area.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Travis said: “We fully understand that people want to pay their respects, but this should be done peacefully without bringing disruption to the area.

“Our priority is to keep people and businesses within the community safe, and we had a policing operation in place to ensure this happened.

“I want to thank the public for their patience during what must have been a very concerning afternoon. Despite some very hazardous driving in our communities, there have been no injuries or collisions reported."

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