Youths from Luton who embroiled themselves in carnival day rioting have been slammed for “letting their town down”.
At around 8.15pm on Sunday night a huge brawl erupted in St George’s Square, during which bottles were thrown and four people were stabbed.
As riot police with batons stepped in to break up the violence running battles between crowds of people spiralled out of control.
Footage from the incident shows rioters throwing missiles and threatening officers with weapons.
The Luton News understands that of the nine people who have been arrested, eight are youths from the town.
Police and crime commissioner Kathryn Holloway told us: “The initial intelligence was that these individuals had come into Luton from London to stir up trouble.
“However it has now emerged that a number are young individuals from Luton who have never been involved in affray before.
“These are youths who have let their town and community down on a day which was supposed to prove harmonious.
“It undermines what was a brilliant day out for 10,000 people.”
During the unrest one officer is reported to have been threatened by a male holding a machete.
The mass brawl left four people in hospital with stab wounds and several others with injuries.
Officers have recovered several weapons from St George’s Square and investigators are now working through CCTV footage to identify those responsible for the riot.
Mrs Holloway added: “The first incident was ‘streaming’ – where a number of individuals go into a shop to steal.
“Afterwards a brawl broke out in the square and officers had to face people throwing bottles at them, one of the individuals on CCTV can be seen threatening an officer with a machete.
“Two hundred officers were deployed to the carnival and there was a well established plan in place with neighbouring forces in case what happened occurred.
“It worked effectively.”
Superintendent Mark Upex has called the incident “unacceptable”.
He said: “A small minority of people inflicted violent behaviour on the town attempting to ruin a day that had been celebrated in harmony.
“The aggressive actions that caused this disorder will be thoroughly and methodically investigated and we are committed to ensuring those responsible will be identified and punished accordingly.”
He added: “It is important that we receive as much information and evidence as possible to assist the investigation.
“We are aware that the public were taking photos and videos of the incident and we urge anyone that has anything that can support us to come forward.”
Following Sunday’s violence the organisers of Luton International Carnival were quick to distance themselves from those involved in the riot.
Johanne Hudson-Lett, a spokeswoman for UK Centre for Carnival Arts, told the Luton News that the scenes in St George’s Square had “essentially ruined what was a brilliant day”.
She said: “The carnival, which was on from 12pm to 6pm, went ahead peacefully and there was an amazing atmosphere in the park.
“We just hope that people understand that what happened was not due to the carnival, we fulfilled our remit and went above and beyond.
“Everyone was safe and had a good time.”
Johanne added: “It is not our intention to bring troublesome people into Luton.
“We are humbled by the support and comments we have received from many people.”
The carnival has received backing from Luton Borough Council leader Hazel Simmons, who said that the mass brawl was sparked by people “who have shown complete and utter disrespect to the town and its people.”