Melbourne: fifty youths attack police outside party

November 13, 2007, Mooney Valley News:

FLEMINGTON'S fragile 'ceasefire' was broken when police were attacked by a group of about 50 youths outside an all-ages dance party.

The violence erupted after a number of youths turned on two security guards and a youth worker at a hip hop dance at the Flemington Community Centre at 10.30pm on November 3.

When 12 police officers arrived to help, they were attacked by a group of predominantly African youths, who threw stones and makeshift spears of tree branches, injuring one officer, Leading Senior Constable Damian Watt, who was hit by a half brick.

''It was very chaotic. There were a lot of girls crying and people were absolutely distressed. They were just throwing rocks randomly. It was .. totally out of control,'' Leading Senior Constable Watt said.

The attack - and two other minor incidents in the days afterwards - are reminiscent of the hostility police encountered when race relations were at an all-time low about two years ago.

Since then, there have been two more attacks on police: About 5am last Monday week, a bottle was thrown at a police patrol van as it passed the Racecourse Road commission flats.

And on Melbourne Cup night, another patrol van was ''pelted with rocks'' near the flats ...

Senior Sergeant George Buchhorn said something needed to be done.

''We need to brainstorm to come up with a strategy as to how we are going to combat this because it's going to result in someone being seriously hurt.''
Still shaken by the experience:
... About a dozen officers arrived to find a group of African-Australian male youths standing outside the centre, ejected after a dancefloor fight with Pacific Islanders.

''The security went in to try and cool it down and then they [Africans] turned on [them]. The first guard hit the floor and got kicked over and over and over - he was really marked up on his back and the top of his head.

''Then two more security came in; both were assaulted.

''I went back outside where the other 10 coppers were. It was a bit volatile; there was probably about 50 African boys standing near the doors and they were all sort of yelling and really trying to egg each other on.

''They were shaping up and trying to get at us and a couple were holding them back.''

The officers armed themselves with capsicum spray and stood in a line between the boys and the community centre, holding their ground.

Then, violence erupted.

''They started ripping branches off the trees and making like sticks and spears out of them. They were holding them like baseball bats.

''We would have been 50 metres from them. All we really wanted was for them to move on.

''Then a rock came and landed on my foot and that was the first indication that they were going to start throwing rocks.

''It was a big rock, about half the size of a brick ... I turned around to the police and said, 'Let's move back.' Then I got hit in the back with half a brick.''

Luckily, most of the impact was absorbed by a 10 millimetre-thick, bullet-proof vest the officer wore.

''There were rocks coming from everywhere, about 50, suddenly,'' Leading Senior Constable Watt said.

''They had obviously stock-piled and obviously planned to do this to somebody. It's pretty frightening when you can't see rocks coming and they're coming from everywhere and the size they were, we had no option but to take cover.''

He said he could not understand why, after so much police work building unity with Flemington's young people, war had been declared on police.

''It's frustrating that this small element tarnishes the rest of the community. These boys don't want to conform.''
African leaders to talk to youths and parents over violence:
STRONG community programs and support are what Flemington's Horn of African youth need, says Eritrean Community in Australia president Berhan Ahmed.

He and Victoria's Somali community leader, Flemington-based Osman Abdurahman, have spoken out about the actions of Horn of African youths who stoned police officers in Flemington last weekend ...

''It's disgusting and not acceptable by any standard and we condemn it,'' Dr Ahmed told Community News.

The founder and chairman of the African Think Tank said the recent closure of evening programs at the North Melbourne Community Centre had deprived youths of activities.

''The problem is if we leave them out in the street, that is creating chaos. It's not because they're Africans, it's because of their age and they're bored.'' ...

''The problem is the volunteers are exhausted ... now I have three or four with me. The resources we used to get from volunteers is dying.'' ...

Mr Abdurahman said he was angry with the organisers for holding an event that brought together young African-Australians from both sexes, because this went against the Muslim faith.

He claimed that neither local community leaders nor parents were informed.

''It's not in our religion and it's not in our culture to bring youth between 10 years and 18 years to dance because they can do whatever they want. It's not permitted,'' Mr Abdurahman said.

Moonee Valley City Council chief executive Peter Black would not comment on the incident.


Anonymous said...

''The problem is if we leave them out in the street, that is creating chaos. It's not because they're Africans, it's because of their age and they're bored.''

Yes, I remember when I was young and bored--I could explode into violence at any second, beating whoever happened by. Oh, those rascally youths! I'm sure more "resources" will civilize them straight away.

Abandon Skip said...

Hell yeah! I know every commercial break on the TV when I was a kid I'd go out the back and kick the dog out of boredom, or throw a spear at the neighbours.

And the stories my grandmother told me, before TV, she used to walk 20 miles just to pick a fight with someone.

Gotta micromanage those African nanoseconds of boredom.