Police officers have been pelted with bottles and stones, after intervening in a Midsummer Eve brawl in Helsinki.
It happened at Hietaniemi beach around 02:00 in the early hours of Saturday morning, when police say there were several hundred mostly young people on the beach when a fight broke out between two groups at the basketball courts.
A statement from Helsinki Police says that officers went to calm the situation and when they detained one person, the other young people began to approach the police “menacingly.”
“Before the situation escalated police were intervening in a fight situation” explains Kirsi Kanth from Helsinki Police.
“When one person was taken to the car another group of young people began to surround the police and behave inappropriately by throwing bottles and stones” she adds. Several officers were injured when they were hit by projectiles.
Some people in the crowd also aimed fireworks at the police, and as 30 police patrols responded to the incident officers used chemical spray when the crowd would not follow instructions to disperse.
“We estimate twenty people were exposed to the gas” says Kirsi Kanth.
Five people were detained, all of them men aged under 18. At least six police cars and three other vehicles were damaged in the fight with broken windows and dents. Some of the police cars were also damaged by fireworks.
Police say they don’t yet know how the situation among the various groups of young people on the beach became heated to the point of fighting. The situation had calmed down by around 03:00 on Saturday morning.
Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) calls violence against officials “reprehensible” and “particularly worrying when the authorities are injured in the course of their duties.”
“I hope for a speedy recovery for the injured officers” the minister writes.