Paul Anderson, Herald Sun (Melbourne), March 3, 2006
Race-based gangs who bash their victims to steal wallets and mobile phones are moving from the suburbs into the city’s entertainment district.
Gangs such as Full-Blooded Islanders, Viets In Defence and Brothers For Life are becoming more violent, police sources say.
One hot spot is Flemington-Ascot Vale, where groups of African youths have been blamed for a string of attacks on pedestrians, convenience stores and service stations.
Twenty robberies have been reported in recent months. “The public are sick of it and are living in fear,” one officer said.
Police say African gangs are moving into the CBD, in particular Crown casino and Southbank Boulevard. The gangs, armed with anything from machetes, samurai swords and knives to baseball bats and batons, are also becoming more violent.
“It’s been luck more than good management that no one’s been seriously injured,” said Det-Sgt Paul Lunt, of the Region 3 robbery taskforce.
In the past three months:
UP to 20 youths armed with baseball bats and machetes bashed a teenager in Clayton.
ABOUT 10 young men of Asian appearance badly hurt a teenager in Footscray.
A GANG bashed and stabbed three young Sudanese males at Sunshine station.
UP to 15 men of southern European appearance robbed and assaulted victims in the southern suburbs.
Nathanael Raimundo, a 17-year-old student bashed by a gang of Asian youths in Footscray, said he didn’t stand a chance when he was belted over the head with a metal pole on Australia Day.
“There’s a lot of stuff like this happening on this side of town,” he said this week.
Nathanael was bashed as he tried to save a friend from a gang of about 10 youths near Footscray train station.
“I was pretty scared . . . and disappointed. I mean, who could do that to someone else? Ten on to one . . . they looked like they were going to kill him.”
Nathanael spent five days in hospital with a fractured skull.
A southeastern suburbs police source said there had been a spate of street robberies and assaults by race-based gangs in Springvale and Dandenong.
“They stay in their ethnic groups,” the source said. “Some are becoming more brazen as they realise what they can get away with, and the fact the cops are not allowed to give them a smack over the ear.”
Another police source said African youth gangs in the western suburbs were becoming more violent. “A lot of African refugees are housed there,” he said.
Youth worker Les Twentyman said the threat of jail was no deterrent to youths in African and Vietnamese gangs.
“Prison would be like Buckingham Palace compared to where they’ve been — refugee camps and the like,” he said.
“The areas where a lot of these groups come from are haemorrhaging with massive youth unemployment.”
Det-Sgt Lunt said several youths had been arrested over the Flemington attacks and at least two are believed to be facing deportation because they do not have citizenship.
Crisis meetings between police, councillors and ethnic community leaders have been held in the western suburbs.