A Sudanese community leader has spoken out in defence of his community’s youth after they were accused of terrorising a Melbourne suburb earlier this week.
Following the violence, the riot squad had to be called to a park in Taylors Hill, west of the city, after a fight over a failed relationship escalated to widespread violence.
The groups then descended on a basketball court in Melbourne’s suburban north-west on Wednesday evening ‘for war’, forcing terrified locals to hide indoors.
However, just days after the conflict, Chairman of Federation of South Sudanese Associations Kenyatta Dei Wal has lauded the riots as typical teenage behaviour.
‘It’s the kind of thing that most young people do,’ he told The Australian.
‘(It was) young people who are just behaving as young people and making stupid choices,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing significant about it.’
The comments follow conflict between a 100-strong group of youths, reportedly from an African background, which left locals fearing for their safety.
Heavily-armed riot police wearing bulletproof vests were pelted with rocks when they attempted to move the crowd on during the violence, while roads were closed and traffic was diverted.
However, Victoria Police has been criticised for not making any arrests on the night, with some warning the situation was not under control.
‘In one area, there is a massive group the police said were Sudanese… there was another really large group of Sudanese and they basically said they don’t have it under control but there is a strong police presence,’ one person told the Herald Sun.
‘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.’
Police told 3AW Radio the incident was arranged by two groups who had ‘pre-existing tension’ between them.
‘There is a cohort in that larger group that are known to us… They’d agreed to meet up there to have a fight,’ Commander Tim Hansen said.