‘We were targeted’ – Those are the words from Luton Town fan who was pepper sprayed and hit by police at the match against Fulham on Monday.
An anonymous male in his 50s spoke with Luton Today, giving an account as to what happened that night as he enjoyed a peaceful pint just before the half time whistle blew at Craven Cottage.
He said that he noticed a crowd going down the stairs to the concourse area, only to find himself being pushed, and found it hard to keep his balance.
His drink was spilt over two police officers who had been pushing the group of travelling supporters, and then got repeatedly hit with a baton and pepper sprayed.
There are also reports of a nine-year-old boy in the crowd of people also pepper sprayed – which has inflammatory effects to cause the eyes to close, tear up and temporarily takes away a human’s vision.
“They started to come towards me and I grabbed my pint,” he said. “The police started to push Luton fans back. I had my pint glass in my hand but they were pushing and pushing and pushing. I thought I was going to fall over and my pint went up in the air. Then I was batoned, first on my arm where there is now a big lump and one on my back. The next thing I couldn’t see!”
He says stewards rinsed his eyes out. “My face is still burning and my eyes are burning,” he said to Luton Today, 24 hours after the incident.
Police have had their say, claiming that what they did was ‘necessary’ to deal with a ‘high level of violence’ towards officers.
The Luton fan suggests around 100 people were pushing and shoving, with around 30 to 40 coppers being involved.
“Luton fans were targeted by police,” he claims. ”We have never had any issues with Fulham. The police were hitting out at everyone.
“It has shook me more than I thought,” he went on. “The next morning I felt like I had been beaten up. I know of a good double figures of people who got pepper sprayed.”
He said there had also been problems with the police at a QPR match earlier in the season. “It’s putting me off going to London matches,” he said. “The police were really heavy handed.”
A statement from Luton Town Football Club said they had received numerous complaints from supporters who attended the Championship match, over their treatment by police and stewards at Craven Cottage.
“As has been reported and indeed witnessed by fellow supporters, members of our club staff and club stewards who were invited to attend the game, for children and senior supporters to be stewarded so aggressively, is disappointing and unacceptable.
“We would like to reassure those who have raised issues that club officials will be in contact with Fulham and the Met Police to ensure they are investigated fully.
“Meanwhile, we would like to offer a huge thank you to the near 2,000 fans who supported the team in their usual passionate, yet impeccable manner. You did your club proud under disappointing circumstances and we look forward to seeing you all back home at the Kenny for a huge game on Saturday against Reading.”
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “At half-time in the Fulham v Luton game on Monday, May 2, officers responded to violence in the away end of the ground.
“Pava spray was deployed as were baton strikes. These tactics were necessary to deal safely with the high level of violence shown towards police officers.
“One man was arrested for assault on an emergency worker. One officer was injured. He did not require hospital treatment. We are not aware of any other injury.
“Two other men were arrested during the course of the game, one for a racially aggravated public order offence and possession of Class A drugs, the other for setting off a flare within sight of the pitch.
“CCTV footage will be reviewed and any offences will be investigated fully.
“No complaint has been received at this time.”
Just like the Luton fan pepper sprayed and hit by police at Fulham, others took to have their say on what happened…
@ltfckimbo: It was the police that started unnecessarily pepper spraying people trying to get back to their seats, not the stewards.
@oliward_: Was shocking, I walked in the ground and got dragged back out for no reason 5 seconds later
@lutonkimbo: From what I saw the stewards were pretty angry with the police and were apologising to the Luton fans also were given first aid to the children and elderly who were indiscriminately pepper sprayed by the police for no reason
@andyc_128: Met Police again, what a surprise
@danielchapman86: Unfortunately they don’t investigate things that happened in the past so no luck here
@BrixtonHatter: I’ve seen some terrible policing/stewarding at places like Charlton and Port Vale but at least they weren’t pepper spraying kids and pensioners in the face like the Met at Fulham
@telscome_hatter: Policing has been nothing but awful since return from lockdown. Literally every copper looking for a fight or a reason to use force. If a fan behaves like that it’s an instant banning order and your handing your passport in for the next 5 years. Police do it and it’s fine 🤷♂️.
@bungle023: Disgraceful that my 10year old son got caught up in the half time violence wanted to get back to his seat and was told by a Fulham steward NO he had to wait. Luckily for me and him a fellow Luton fan spotted his distress and pushed him through the steward to safety
@IzzyBean91: This is awful, I’m so sorry this happened. I was in the Putney end last championship and you guys had the most amazing and polite fans I’ve experienced. Dad had some lovely chats with many Luton fans half time and on the way home. I’ve been rooting for you to come up with us.
@Joe_Gunning: Sadly, not surprised. Was at the game against Preston for the first pitch invasion and some of the aggressiveness used by the stewards towards women and children was totally uncalled for. Some people seem to think that when they h ave a high vis jacket on they are above the law.
@_paigew: Well I was leaving and I get pushed to a wall by a steward. It was all just a mess really 🙄
@richarddoxsey: They haven’t changed since the 80s then. Saw Met officers deliberately provoking trouble back then.
@DAZHATTER: @metpoliceuk = Have many (not all) bullies in uniform!!! 😞😞😞
@mike_g_sheff: Well done Luton for speaking out in an official capacity