Birmingham Cinema: Girl, 13, among ‘machete’ brawl arrests

Nechells Star City
The disorder broke out at the Star City leisure and entertainment venue in Nechells

Five teenagers, including a 13 year-old girl, have been arrested after a mass brawl involving machetes broke out at a cinema.

Seven West Midlands Police officers were hurt while attempting to disperse the fight at the Star City complex in Birmingham on Saturday evening.

Footage from inside the venue appears to show disorder breaking out and people on the floor screaming.

Police drew Tasers and used a dispersal order to clear about 100 youths.

Steve Graham, commander of Birmingham West neighbourhood policing unit, said: “It’s always hard to gauge these sorts of things – but what I will say is incidents like last night are rare.

“As for some officers who were there last night, it may be the worst thing they have ever seen.”

A girl aged 13, a girl and boy both aged 14, and a 19-year-old man were all held on suspicion of assaulting police. In addition, a boy aged 14 was held on suspicion of obstructing police. Police said they expect to make further arrests on Sunday.

The scene

 

The trouble “seemed to be focussed at the cinema” but “pockets of disorder” broke out around the whole complex for between 90 minutes and two hours, the force said.

Two machetes were seized and a knife was recovered from a roundabout nearby.

Since the disorder, the Vue cinema chain has pulled the gang film Blue Story from its 91 outlets in the UK and Ireland. Director Rapman has been contacted for comment.

A Vue spokesman said: “We can confirm a decision was made to remove the film. The safety and welfare of our customers and staff is always our first priority.”

Mr Graham said: “I understand there is a lot of speculation on social media and people are citing that film. At this stage we are not jumping to any conclusions. That will form part of our investigations as it carries on.”

‘Intent on causing trouble’

Witness Choleigh McGuire described the brawl as “one of the scariest moments of [her] life”, as she queued to watch the new Frozen film with her daughter.

“Armed police come, Tasers come, all of the people that were fighting ran off into the cinema, hiding. I am shaking,” she said.

Another witness, Rachael Allison, said “a young boy was crying on the floor with his mother” as a number of people started fighting.

“The police told everyone to leave the cinema as they held Taser guns in their hands and started to bring in guard dogs.”

The force was called to the complex, in Nechells, at about 17:30 GMT and cleared the area by 21:00. The officers hurt during the disorder suffered minor facial injuries.

Supt Ian Green said: “This was a major outbreak of trouble which left families who were just trying to enjoy a night out at the cinema understandably frightened.

“We worked quickly to move the crowds on, but were met with a very hostile response and officers had to draw Tasers to restore order.

“It’s clear that some of those who went to Star City last night were intent on causing trouble.”

He said the force’s response was necessary to restore order as quickly as possible.

“We understand that families with young children will have been left upset by what they saw last night, but we urge people to appreciate that our aim last night was to protect the public and restore order, and that’s what we achieved,” he added.

Additional security is in place at the complex and police will be there on Sunday night. Officers will also be visiting schools across Birmingham on Monday to speak to pupils about carrying knives.

Mr Graham added: “We know that Birmingham isn’t unusual in this. Let’s not pretend that knife crime or violence in the under 25s is rare or is just isolated around Birmingham.

“There are no short-term fixes to this, so we’re prepared and we’re in this for the long run and we’re going to work with schools and other partners to prevent youth violence becoming an increasing problem.”

Source: bbc.co.uk

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