50 organisations sign a public call for an amnesty for the Ely 20

Police in Ely
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Over 50 organisations have signed a letter calling for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to drop the charges against the ‘Ely 20’. Riots broke out on 22 May in Ely, Cardiff, following the deaths of teenagers Kyrees Sullivan and Harvey Evans. 20 people have now been arrested.

Kyrees and Harvey were killed in a road accident, after police chased them. The two boys had been riding an e-bike. The police initially denied having chased the boys, but CCTV later emerged of a police van following them just before the crash.

Riots broke out after heavy police presence provoked a crowd of 150 mourners who had gathered after the collision.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has confirmed that gross misconduct notices have been given to the two police officers who chased Kyrees and Harvey. However, these notices do not necessarily mean that the officers will face disciplinary proceedings.

Drop the charges

The Canary Worker’s Co-op has signed the letter, along with over 50 researchers, organisations, and individuals. The signatories include celebrated Hollywood director Boots Riley, Chumbawumba’s Alice Nutter, several academics and organisers, and local community organisations from Cardiff.

The letter calls for Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales, to make a statement seeking an amnesty for the young people. They also call for the CPS to drop the charges. Many of the people under arrest are below the age of 18.

According to the authors of the letter:

Read on...

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Handing serious charges to children and young people will impact the course of their whole lives. Going to court or even prison will harm their current and long term mental and physical health, access to work, education, and support, and could see them face up to 10 years in prison, altering their lives forever.

The authors point out that these are by no means the first deaths at the connected to police in Cardiff in recent years. Mohamud Mohammed Hassan died after being detained at Cardiff Police station in 2021. Leighton Jones died after South Wales Police restrained him the same year.

Statements of support

Welsh language publisher Cyhoeddiadau’r Stamp, a signatory organisation, made the following statement in solidarity with the people of Ely:

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.

Dr Dan Evans, a lecturer at Cardiff University and another of the signatories, wrote:

Criminalising these frustrated young people will solve nothing. It will simply perpetuate social exclusion and marginalisation

An ‘understandable emotional reaction’

The open letter itself reads:

Dear Mark Drakeford and the Crown Prosecution Service,

First of all, we stand with, and send our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Harvey Evans and Kyrees Sullivan in the wake of this terrible tragedy. The pain of losing these boys so young is unimaginable, and we hope you know that we wish to support you in any way possible as you seek justice.

The letter points out that the riot was an “understandable emotional reaction” to the actions of South Wales Police:

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.

It calls for an amnesty for all those arrested:

We call for an amnesty for these young people and an end to the criminalisation of the community of Ely in the wake of these riots.

The lives of the family, friends and wider community of the kids who have lost their lives have been changed forever. There is no way to bring them back.

There is no need to inflict more suffering on this community by locking up its young people.

The authors of the letter invite individuals affected by the police repression in Ely to reach out to them at [email protected].

Organisations and individuals can also continue to sign up to the open letter via the same email.

Read the full letter here.

Featured image via screenshot / BBC

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