'Bravery' of Harehills community praised as teenager locked up for Bonfire Night disorder in 2019

People in Harehills have been praised for their "resilience and bravery" for stepping in to stop violent yobs during the Bonfire Night disorder of 2019.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 4:45 am

As 19-year-old Leonard Gheorghe is locked up for his involvement in the violence, a Judge has praised police officers, firefighters and community leaders for the courage they showed during the disturbance.

Emergency services and members of the public came under attack in the five-hour incident, which saw lawless crowds throw fireworks and bricks.

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The charred remains of a bonfire in Banstead Park after the disorder in Harehills in November 2019 (Photo: Dan Rowlands/SWNS)

But brave residents, youth workers and young people stepped in to try and help - standing up for their home as it came under attack.

Judge Simon Batiste sentenced Gheorghe, who was described as one of the most heavily-involved offenders, to 21 months in a young offender institution yesterday.

In sentencing Judge Batiste said: "When the violence started, local street team workers and community workers sought to calm the tensions.

"However, despite their best efforts they then became targets for attack. One such worker had his jacket set alight by a firework and it became necessary for them to withdraw.

Harehills councillor Salma Arif has praised those who stepped in to try and protect their home

"I want to pay tribute to the bravery shown that night by police, fire service and by many adults and community leaders who sought to calm the situation despite putting themselves at considerable personal risk by doing so.

"The courts will seek to provide protection to the police and other public servants trying to do their jobs."

Harehills councillor Salma Arif echoed the Judge's comments, praising those who risked their safety to try and stop the violence, such as volunteers from the Leeds Street Team.

She said: “What happened sadly put us on the map for the wrong reasons, but what came out of that was the bravery and resilience of people in Harehills.

“They came together to say, ‘we won’t accept this, this isn’t us and it doesn’t define Harehills’.

“A select few individuals were sadly making trouble, but the overwhelming majority of people who live in Harehills are not for that.

“It shows their character and the spirit of the community to push back against some bad people causing trouble.

“The fact they came out that night, in those conditions, shows they are willing to stand up for their community and tell those people not to make trouble in their home.”

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