A memorial to remember merchant seamen in Cardiff Bay was allegedly urinated on and left strewn with rubbish after huge crowds gathered in the area on Good Friday.
Hundreds of people were pictured on the steps of the Senedd building drinking, partying and singing well into the night on Good Friday, ignoring social distancing and coronavirus rules still in place which do not allow large gatherings.
A section 35 dispersal order is now in place in Cardiff Bay which gives officers the powers to exclude people from the area and large sections have been fenced off to deter people from gathering.
During the incident on Friday night, the Merchant Seaman’s Memorial was defaced by gatherers who allegedly urinated on it and left litter.
Pictures from Saturday morning show that the statue – which is in the form of a sleeping face fused with a ship’s hull – was being cleaned by council workers after the night before.
One man, who was “filled with rage” after seeing the state of the memorial, took it upon himself to start cleaning it after seeing the mess left by the crowds.
Bradley Jones, a tugboat mate, told the BBC that he “wouldn’t have been able to sleep” knowing the state the memorial was left in.
Mr Jones, 25, whose father and uncles were also in the Merchant Navy, said he was sent pictures and videos of the memorial from Friday night because of his connections to it and that it “really distressed” him.
He told the BBC: “I can only describe it as an internal rage, because that memorial is not only a memorial for people we have lost but it’s also a memorial for people who don’t have a grave or who were lost at sea.
“It is a place where their family go to and remember them.
“People urinated on it and smashed glass and people just generally disrespected it there.
“It was really, really painful for me, and it will be painful for a lot people in the Merchant Navy and a lot of people in the general public.”
He said he felt “like he needed to go down there” to see if there was any permanent damage and to do what he could to clean up.
“I went down there because I just wouldn’t be able to go home to sleep, knowing that,” he said.
“The mess was still there, and even though it’d be gone in five or six hours I just wouldn’t rest easy until that area was clean.
“It took me half an hour. I went away still filled with rage, but you know I’ve done a small part of what I could do, and I just felt that.”
The memorial has now been fenced off by Cardiff Council as well as other parts of the bay.
On Saturday Morning, hours after the party goers finally left the area, the familiar scene of piles of rubbish, including broken bottles and gas canisters, could be seen. Cleaning teams had been out since 4.30am cleaning the mess and one said “you couldn’t see the steps” of the Senedd building when they started because they were buried under rubbish.
A Cardiff Council spokesperson said on Saturday: “Once again our teams have been faced with the huge task of cleaning up a significant amount of rubbish left behind by large groups of people intent on breaking Covid-19 restrictions.
“Last night, bins were left unused and the ground was littered with rubbish. Council staff have been on site since the early hours of the morning, working hard to clear and clean the area.
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“Despite the preventative measures put in place by the council, in partnership with South Wales Police, the Welsh Government’s coronavirus regulations were again broken by a significant number of people illegally gathering in Cardiff Bay.
“The rules are clear, six people, from two households are allowed to meet outdoors, maintaining two-metre social distancing. Breaking these rules significantly increases the chances of Covid-19 cases rising in the city. We urge everyone to follow the advice, maintain social distance, and to keep Cardiff safe.”