It was gangs of drunken youths who rampaged through the Bogside on Saturday — hurling dozens of petrol bombs, hijacking vehicles before setting them alight and using them as barricades.
They ran from street to street, laden with petrol bombs and blue bags full of drink.
The trouble flared shortly after the Apprentice Boys’ annual parade had left the cityside. A group of young people, some no older than 10 or 11, threw stones and bottles at two police Land Rovers blocking the entrance to Butcher Street.
This was a precursor for what was to come two hours later when three vehicles were hijacked, set alight and used to block Fahan Street, the flyover at Lecky Road and Rossville Street.
Police Land Rovers came into the Bogside to be greeted by more than 100 petrol bombs raining down on them in the space of about 15 minutes before they withdrew.
An attempt to hijack a fourth vehicle a short time later at Free Derry Wall failed after intervention by members of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, camped there as part of the ongoing campaign to free Brendan Lillis. Gary Donnelly from the 32CSM said they were dismantling the camp because of “an anti-social element” that had come onto the streets of the Bogside.
“This has nothing to do with us or our protest and if we had not intervened that van would have been hijacked too,” he said.
“This is an anti-social element, drunk and drugged out of their heads so we have decided to draw our protest to a close.”
Undeterred, the mob of young people, both girls and boys, and almost all of them drinking, moved into the back streets before once again emerging with crateloads of petrol bombs. Empty crates were set on the 32CSM’s campfire in an effort to destroy forensic evidence and the acrid smell of burning plastic filled the air.