Police in Melbourne have been slammed for making no arrests after residents of the city’s north-west suburbs were terrorised by gangs of African youths who bragged “police can’t touch us” and branded frightened families “racist”.
Despite its sending dozens of armed officers in riot gear to Taylors Hill as more than 100 teenagers gathered “for war”, and telling residents to “stay inside and lock their doors” as rival gangs ran amok, police claimed there had been “no threat to community safety”.
According to The Age, there was a heavy police presence at the scene for several hours, including cavalry officers and a helicopter, with traffic diverted away from the area as gangs hurled rocks at authorities and law enforcement vehicles, smashing the window of a patrol car.
Local media heard police had said the youths had gathered “for war” as they told people to stay inside their homes, with one resident telling reporters: “They told me to stay inside, lock the doors and yeah, it’s scary, I’ve got a nine-year-old and an 11-year-old and they’re scared.”
Another Taylors Hill local described youths threatening his family, asking “what are you looking at, you white trash” before warning him not to be shocked if they decided to “raid” his home, and he added that the group seemed completely unafraid of police in the area.
— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) August 9, 2018
A recurring theme in locals’ testimony was the desire to feel safe in their own homes amidst rising African violence in Melbourne. “I thought this isn’t right. I should be able to come out here and feel safe,” said one resident, who told 9NEWS she was branded a “racist” by female troublemakers on her property she tried to confront during the chaos.
“They were everywhere, I don’t know if I’m over exaggerating but it looked like hundreds,” resident Maree Delaney said, recalling she was “scared they were going to start smashing cars, breaking doors down, everything.
“Other than a security door, there is nothing we can do. We don’t want to build brick walls, we’re Australians, we don’t want to live like that,” she said, adding: “You just think, how am I going to defend myself?”
A couple with a number of small children at home, who bought the land and built the house in 2007, said the once peaceful area had seen increasing trouble in the past two years.
“We’ve been here nine years and this is the worst yet… You build a nice house in a nice area… you don’t want to start seeing things like that, where is it coming from?” the husband said.
— Estelle Griepink (@EstelleGriepink) August 9, 2018
Speaking to The Age through a window in his glass front door, he said safety concerns have spurred the family to consider moving elsewhere.
“That’s the reason we have roller shutters now. I’m not opening the door. I was told by police to get inside before,” he said.
Residents are so desperate that people have begun stockpiling weapons with which they could defend their families from similar incidents in the future, 9NEWS heard from one man, who said “What do we do? Bolt all our doors?” as he predicted: “One day somebody’s going to get hurt and it’s not going to be good.”
Speaking to ABC Melbourne, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the youths were ‘north south’ rivals who had gathered for a brawl over girlfriends, which had been arranged in a Facebook post.
‘It was kids from our Australian Sudanese [community] coming from the southern suburbs to meet up with kids from the northern suburbs to have a bit of clash there… about girlfriends or something like that,’ he said.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 15, 2016
“They are groups of kids coming together. You can call them gangs … But if you think of them as gangs it’s not the way we tend to respond to them as they don’t have the traditional thing that we think groups have,” said Ashton, adding: “These are groups that use social media.”
Federal Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who has previously highlighted problems with African gang violence in Melbourne, blasted Victoria’s left-wing authorities for downplaying the issue.
“In 2018, having people riot like this, as you say, like a scene from some other part of the world is unacceptable,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB, noting [Victorian premier] Daniel Andrews “won’t even accept that there’s a problem, that these gangs exist”.
“He needs to, I think, come out and start sorting this out because at the moment people are getting hurt and somebody’s going to be killed.”