FIVE officers were injured during the violence which broke out in Glasgow as around 15,000 Rangers fans celebrated their team’s first premiership trophy in a decade, police have said.
A total of 28 arrests have been made following the disorder around George Square on Saturday night, with officers saying many more will follow.
Thousands of fans defied Covid-19 warnings against large gatherings and massed in George Square to celebrate Rangers winning their first Scottish Premiership championship since 2011, setting off fireworks and flares and drinking in the street.
Footage on social media showed packs of flag-draped fans attacking each other, and launching traffic cones, plastic bollards and other missiles at lines of riot gear-clad police officers.
Images showed George Square strewn with hundreds of broken bottles, plastic bags and spent flares after crowds were moved out of the area at around 9pm.
READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon ‘disgusted’ by Rangers fans who ‘rampaged’ in Glasgow
An accident and emergency department source told the PA news agency one man came into hospital “missing half his hand” after a firework he was holding blew up.
Police Scotland issued an updated statement on Sunday afternoon.
Assistant chief constable Gary Ritchie said around 15,000 people took the “selfish” decision to gather at Ibrox before moving into the city centre.
He said the crowd at George Square was initially peaceful before the effect of alcohol took hold.
ACC Ritchie said: “At this point, public order officers moved in to break up the crowd and make them disperse.
“They began to throw missiles at us and five officers were injured, which is unacceptable. No-one should expect to be assaulted when they go to their work.
“Policing a situation like this requires balance and a proportionate response. The level of force we use is dictated by the actions of the crowd.
“Sending in public order officers too early, particularly when a crowd is largely peaceful, can have the opposite effect and actually trigger violence and disorder.
“I strongly condemn the behaviour of these supporters who not only placed our officers at risk but damaged the image and reputation of Glasgow, especially during this critical period of the pandemic.”
Calum Steele, the general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, shared images on Twitter of some of the injuries sustained by officers.
Steele said police “had bones broken, lost teeth, and sustained a multitude of other injuries as they faced (what was for many) the worst violence in their 20 odd years of policing”.
GRAPHIC IMAGES WARNING
No matter how unbelievably lucky we are to have such courageous officers protecting our communities, none of them – NONE – deserve this.
Just two of the officers injured in yesterday’s carnage in the West of Scotland.
— Calum Steele (@CalumA_Steele) May 16, 2021
Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said on Twitter that “many more arrests will follow in the coming weeks”.
READ MORE: Police hunting woman draped in Rangers flag after train station attack
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned the “disgraceful scenes” and sectarian chanting among the crowd, adding: “To say I’m utterly disgusted by the Rangers fans who rampaged through the city would be an understatement.”
Sturgeon said on Twitter: “In normal times, the violence & vandalism, and the vile anti-Catholic prejudice that was on display, would have been utterly unacceptable.
“But mid-pandemic, in a city with cases on the rise, it was also selfish beyond belief.”
Rangers defeated Aberdeen 4-0 at Ibrox before collecting the Scottish Premiership silverware. Fans had been warned against gathering to celebrate due to rising Covid-19 cases in Glasgow.
However, thousands of supporters outside Ibrox were cheering and chanting as the Rangers players arrived for the 12.30pm kick-off, before marching into the heart of the city after the game.
On Friday night, scores of Rangers fans lit red flares simultaneously along the River Clyde in the city as they marked the end of the season.