Chaotic mass brawls rock tourist beaches
TWO beachside communities have been left reeling in Victoria after wild mass brawls involving more than 100 young people erupted over the weekend.
Dramatic images from St Kilda, Melbourne on Saturday night show injured youths lying on the ground receiving treatment while dozens of police officers tried to stop the violence.
According to police, one man was kicked while he was unconscious on the ground by 20 people and had his phone and wallet stolen - and his mate, who tried to intervene, was also injured.
"It was just very quickly that the group of the African-Australians came together. There was a smaller group down there, but then (a larger group) started arriving," Acting Superintendent Mark Langhorn told reporters yesterday.
"So throughout the night no one had been down there drinking or anything like that; everyone was well-behaved. It was just when the large group came together, trouble started … then it sort of flowed onto the public."
As a result of the chaos, 10 people were arrested and three were injured.
It all began at around 10.30pm Saturday when a large number of youths gathered at the popular beach and a fight broke out along the foreshore shortly after, according to Victoria Police.
Two men, aged 24 and 26, were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after the fights at St Kilda while a 20-year-old man was left with minor injuries but declined treatment.
"The three males were assaulted by a group of 10 to 20 youths - they are described as African-Australian youths," Acting Supt Langhorn told reporters.
"The main victim was assaulted, he was kicked while he was on the ground, he was unconscious while he was on the ground, his phone and his wallet were stolen.
"His friend intervened and he received cuts and bruises to his eye, a third friend received a swollen lip from the group. Two of the males went to hospital. They were released this morning from the Alfred (Hospital)."
Witness Anthony Morton was attacked as he tried to break up the fight.
"I had a couple of kicks in the back of the head," he told Channel 7.
"I've got a little bump in the back of my head but like, I'm still standing."
More than an hour's drive away in Rye at the Mornington Peninsula, fights also broke out among youths on the same night.
Police said officers were called to reports of brawls and drunken behaviour involving schoolies at Rye, on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.
When they arrived, bottles were thrown at police officers who used capsicum spray to control the crowd.
Nine people were arrested for riotous behaviour, possession of drugs and alcohol and being drunk in a public place.
"Those participating in schoolies are reminded to be mindful and respectful of the community and any anti-social and drunken behaviour will not be tolerated," police said in a statement.
In St Kilda, the chaotic scenes have left foreshore traders warning of an imminent "catastrophic situation" along the popular beach strip if steps are not taken to reduced violent incidents.
"No one who works along here would've been surprised to hear what happened on Saturday night," St Kilda Sea Baths management spokesman Travis Atkins told The Age.
"In fact, we fear that even worse conflict on a much larger scale will occur if the council doesn't ban alcohol completely along the foreshore over the summer months when you start seeing these large groups congregating down here."
State Police Minister Lisa Neville condemned the violence.
"This behaviour is completely unacceptable,'' she told the Herald Sun.
"Police responded quickly and the investigation is well under way with offenders already identified and arrested.''
A 19-year-old Truganina man, Dau Mabior, was also arrested after the St Kilda assaults and is facing charges of assault, making threats to kill, possession of cannabis and breaching bail.
A second man was interviewed and released pending summons in relation to possession of a prohibited weapon.