Two men were spotted handing out containers of petrol to young people in the Lecky Road area of the Brandywell on Tuesday evening, according to four separate ‘Journal’ sources.
The ‘Journal’ spoke to four separate people in the area, all of whom claimed to have witnessed two men driving into the Brandywell area before stopping the car they were travelling in to hand over containers of petrol to young people.
The allegations come after the PSNI confirmed they received reports of young people setting pallets and rubbish on fire in the Lecky Road and Westland Street areas.
The PSNI said a number of petrol bombs and missiles were thrown at them. Four young males, one aged 14 and three aged 16, were arrested in the Westland Street area on suspicion of riotous behaviour. They were subsequently released on police bail pending further enquiries.
The four people who claim to have seen two men handing over petrol to young people asked not be named for fear they would be targeted for speaking out.
“I saw it all - the two men came into the Brandywell and handed the petrol over to the young ones,” said a source.
“It’s not fair on the young ones because when the police get their hands on them it’s the young people, and not the men, who are going to be punished,” said another source.
Local independent councillor for the area, Gary Donnelly, was contacted by other residents in the area and he said he had not heard of any reports of two men handing over petrol to young people but he did say some constituents described the PSNI’s approach in the Brandywell on Tuesday as “heavy-handed”.
“I have been speaking to residents all [Wednesday] morning and they described to me a very heavy-handed approach from the PSNI on Tuesday.”
“They left children terrified and some were even forced to hide underneath cars,” said Colr. Donnelly.
Colr. Donnelly went on to criticise the way in which the PSNI has dealt with incidents in the Brandywell and Bogside areas in the past.
“I’ve spoken out about this before. They (PSNI) come into the area in their jeeps and circle around - it’s as if they are looking for a reaction from the young people. It’s not acceptable.”
Local Sinn Fein Councillor for the area, Patricia Logue, said if the allegations of adults handing over petrol to young people proved to be true then people with information should contact the police.
“The PSNI must investigate these allegations because if this did happen then it shows that these attacks on police are being orchestrated.
“I would urge anyone living in the area with information to give it to the police. The fact these men are alleged to have driven into the area would suggest that they are not from the area,” said Colr. Logue.