Leader helps to quell riots

By Dominic Ponsford

Journalists in Wrexham played the role of peacemakers after violent clashes between locals and refugees on a housing estate.

In a bid to calm tensions after two days of violence on the Caia Park Estate, the Evening Leader rushed out more than 2,000 posters in the area. They carried an aerial picture of the estate and the slogan: “We’re Proud of the Park… Are You?” The poster was also published on page three of the paper.

Trouble on the normally peaceful estate centred around tensions between 40 Iraqi Kurd asylum seekers and the local population and happened over a Sunday and a Monday night. The Leader put its posters out the following Friday.

News editor Joanna Shone said: “It was very hard to find words that wouldn’t encourage people to chuck bricks through the house that put it up – it had to be something positive.

“Obviously we are not saying that it stopped any rioting, but there wasn’t any rioting the following weekend – largely due to the way the police handled it.

“It was about restoring the spirit of the area, which never died really – it was just dented.”

The poster was designed, printed and distributed in less than 12 hours.

Editor Richard Williams said: “It was a spur-of-the-moment idea. This is a sensitive matter and we wanted to help our readers to distance themselves from the trouble without being too confrontational.

“There has been a huge take-up of the posters and locals are using it as a platform to declare their local pride and the fact that they do not support any of the trouble that we have seen.”

The poster campaign has won praise from community leaders and local police, who requested a batch to distribute themselves.

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas said: “I think these posters are an excellent idea. It is time the ordinary, decent people on the estate have their say. This is a great way for them to do it.”

Police Chief Superintendent Steve Curtis said: “I think this is a tremendous initiative which will have the support of the local community.”

The troubles, which saw more than 70 people arrested, have now ended and so far there has been no repeat.

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