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The BBC's Catherine Marston
"It is clear that the violence has upset many people"
 real 56k

Assistant Chief Constable Graham Maxwell
delivers a brief statement about the riots
 real 56k

Harehills voluntary worker Razaq Raj
"I totally agree with the police that it was nothing to do with race"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
'No excuse' for Leeds riot

Trouble is believed linked to the arrest of an Asian man
Police chiefs have said there was "no excuse" for the violence which broke out on the streets of Leeds on Tuesday night.

The riot is being linked to the arrest of an Asian man on Sunday, which caused anger in the Harehills district of the city.

But Assistant Chief Constable Steve Smith said there could be no excuse for such violence.

He said: "Any attempt to legitimise criminal behaviour by saying it is connected with racial tension or the style of policing is just an excuse for young males committing crime on the streets."


Assistant Chief Constable Steve Smith: No excuse for such violence
Officers were patrolling the Harehills district of Leeds on Wednesday, after several hours of overnight street violence involving about 200 people.

Earlier West Yorkshire Police said the riot was "premeditated".

Two dozen cars and a shop were set on fire and riot police were pelted with bricks and petrol bombs during the rioting. Two officers were slightly injured.


It is not a racist attack, this is because of police inaction

Local resident

But Assistant Chief Constable Graham Maxwell said the rioting was "criminal activity, pure and simple".

He described it as "a premeditated attack on police".

He said officers had been lured to the area by reports of a petrol bomb attack, no evidence of which had been found.

Six people have been arrested. A full investigation is under way.


The events were criminal activity, pure and simple

Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police Graham Maxwell

The disturbances, in a multi-ethnic area of Leeds, come less than two weeks after racial violence flared in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

But local residents agreed with police that the Harehills violence was not racially or politically motivated.

Police later said there was no evidence to suggest those involved in the Oldham disturbances had travelled to Leeds.

Razaq Raj, a voluntary worker within the Asian community, said the violence was purely a reaction to the arrest on Sunday.

"The Bangladeshi-origin man was arrested, CS gas was used and he was violently arrested. It was sparked off from there," he said.

He said the disorder had "nothing to do" with race, and local people were "shocked and horrified".


The violence lasted for about seven hours
"The area where it happened, in my life I never ever came across this. People from all races live there together very happily," he said.

Lured to area

BBC correspondent John Thorne said the Harehills violence began in the late afternoon when youths began hurling missiles at passing cars and buses.

Some drivers were forced out of their cars, which were then set alight.

Police were called at about 2015 BST following reports that a petrol bomb had been thrown into the road in the Banstead Park area.

Eight vanloads of riot officers and police dogs had a tense two-hour stand-off with hundreds of youths who had gathered on the streets.

The youths then reportedly charged the police, hurling bricks, wooden crates, bottles and stones.

The police formed a line with riot shields and charged the rioters so they could put out the fires.

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