Thursday 16.07.2020
MIDSUMMER NIGHT

Gas, police stoned and five arrested in a pitched battle in Helsinki

Several officers were injured and cars suffered damages after police responded with tear gas to the stones and fireworks thrown at them by a group of minors on Midsummer night.

File photo of a police car. Photo: Poliisi.
File photo of a police car. Photo: Poliisi.

Again, the violent attitude of a few spoiled everyone's party.

The Midsummer celebration on Hietaniemi sand beach (Helsinki) was clouded by a pitched battle between young people - many of them minors - and the police, who were monitoring security and public order in the area.

According to police information, the incident began shortly before 2:00 AM when a police patrol went to a basketball court where "there was a fight between two youth groups." Police say their intention was "to calm down" the young people, so one person "was taken over" and transported to a police car with the intention "to investigate the situation".

That detention triggered the confrontation, in which several officers resulted slightly injured, some youngsters were exposed to tear gas and cars suffered serious damages. "As the person was transported to a police car, the rest of the youth began to approach the police menacingly," the Helsinki police department said in a press release.

The crowd also launched fireworks at police cars and officers, so they called for reinforcements. In total, some 30 patrols were displaced to the scene. Police say they ordered the crowd to disperse and warned in advance that they would have to resort to tear gas spray if the orders were not followed.

20 exposed to the gas

"Before the incidents started, the police were intervening in a situation, a fight, where they had to intervene. When the participant was transported to a car, another group of young people began to surround the police and behave inappropriately by throwing bottles and stones," said chief investigator Kirsi Kanth.

"When the situation continued to be threatening and police orders were not followed, the police had to use gas spray. We estimate twenty people were exposed to the gas," Kanth explained.

Police arrested five people on the spot, all of them male under 18 years of age. One of them was taken home and other four were still under arrest Saturday morning. At this stage of the investigation, the criminal offenses under investigation are violent resistance and harm to an official.

Broken cars

"During the incident, at least six police cars and three bystanders' cars were damaged. The cars have broken windows and dents. In addition, a few police have been injured to some degree by fireworks."

At the time of the event, there was a mixed group of young people on the beach celebrating Midsummer. Police says that "at this stage, it is not known why the situation among young people escalated."

Police say they are working to get in touch with the youth who were present last night in Hietaniemi and with their parents to find out the reasons for the threatening behavior towards the officers.

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