Fence victims 'a bit horrified'
Residents whose fence was torn apart in a clash between rival groups in Woodridge say their suburb is "friendly", as police keep "the hotheads away from each other".PT1M52S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2cr1a 620 349 January 15, 2013
Police have cautioned a group of South Pacific Islander youths in Logan on Tuesday afternoon.
Tension between the two family groups at the centre of the dispute in Woodridge rose again after a car load of youths of Islander appearance drove through backstreets and verbally abused a group of Aboriginal people.
Police stand watch in Logan on Tuesday evening. Photo: Amy Remeikis
Police pulled the car over and spoke with those inside. They were not arrested but it is believed they were cautioned over their behaviour.
Police have separated the two family groups involved in the dispute, restricting them to different ends of Douglas Street.
For the most part, people are just aimlessly wandering within their designated area. Many residents who are in involved in the dispute have taken to standing outside their houses, watching.
Police speak with young indigenous people and an Aboriginal elder in Douglas Street. Photo: Marissa Calligeros
Children are riding scooters and performing handstands and cartwheels in the street. Other residents are leaving for evening shifts at their workplaces.
The media has gathered on the corner of Douglas Street and Smith Road where the recent clashes have occurred. Most commercial television news networks intend to report live from the scene tonight.
Police will continue to monitor the situation overnight.
Men have wielded fence palings as weapons in a face-off between Aboriginal and Pacific Islander groups in Logan. Photo: Seven News
No charges will be laid against any youths involved in a violent clash in Logan on Monday night, but local politicians say continued talks between cultural groups are needed to ease tensions.
The streets of Logan are relatively quiet today, but for a large police presence.
Police work to keep the rival groups apart. Photo: Seven News
Officers have closed Douglas Street in Woodridge, which was the scene of Monday night's clash involving up to 50 youths, allowing only residents in.
Police, some unarmed, put themselves between Aboriginal and Pacific Islander youths as they confronted each other with nail-bearing fence palings, rocks and sticks on Monday night.
It is understood tension between two families, living just 200 metres apart, boiled over after a young person's car was damaged on Saturday night.
Members of the rival groups shake hands, ending another eruption of violence. Photo: Seven News
‘‘It looked terrible, it was a bit hair-raising there for a while, but we were able to settle the tensions and separate the parties,’’ Superintendent Noel Powers said.
‘‘It's a matter of keeping the hot-heads away from each other. They're the ones that won't listen to reason ... they're the ones that have really kicked all this off.’’
He said Monday night's violence was triggered by no more than one person.
Douglas Street residents Jackie and John Adams. Photo: Marissa Calligeros
‘‘It was really kicked off with one person just antagonising the other, and tensions were just that raw and that fired up that it took just one incident to set it off,’’ Superintendent Powers said.
‘‘We never envisaged that that would have happened.’’
Superintendent Powers praised his officers who placed themselves between the youths in a bid to quell the violence.
‘‘If we attempted any sort of enforcement action, well, it would have just escalated and I'm quite confident we would have lost control of what was happening,’’ he said.
Behind the scenes police are continuing talks with the Aboriginal and Tongan communities.
‘‘I'm anticipating that there'll be no further trouble today,’’ Superintendent Powers said.
Meanwhile, Logan Mayor Pam Parker intends to coordinate a ministerial safety summit to address underlying cultural issues in the area.
‘‘I've been in contact with different ministers today and I want to coordinate that [summit] ... to look at the short-term issues and long-term issues,’’ she said.
‘‘I also then want to have meetings with different community representatives to see what the undertones are.’’
Large numbers of police are on standby if violence flares again, however police are confident they can keep the peace.
Neighbours fear another flare up
Douglas Street residents Jackie and John Adams fear tensions will boil over again, despite assurances from police.
The couple were home on Monday night as violence erupted on the street outside.
‘‘It was terrifying,’’ Ms Adams said. ‘‘Scary, very scary."
She decided to lock her gate with chains and a padlock last week because she could feel the tensions building.
‘‘It been building for a while,’’ she said.
‘‘Last night we barricaded ourselves inside. The Pacific Islanders were coming down from one side of the street and the Aborigines from the other and our house is in the middle.
‘‘You feared for your life.’’
Ms Adams said the last she heard from the brawlers was one man yelling: ‘‘We came for blood. This isn't finished.’’
‘‘That's scary,’’ she said.
The brawls first started in the early hours of Sunday morning when police were called to a fight in Douglas Street.
On Sunday night, tensions boiled over again and police were called to the same street where they arrested two Aboriginal men.
An Aboriginal family has said it was targeted during one of the incidents by South Pacific Islander men, who used machetes, metal poles, bats and bricks in an attack that damaged a house and cars.
A Tongan family has said it was the target of a similar attack on one night.
Just hours after police held a press conference on Monday afternoon tensions flared again, prompting officers to call in the riot squad. Police managed to split the two groups and encourage a handshake between two men from each group about 7pm.
"It's just a fence''
Wayne and Sally Archer were fortunately not home when youths ripped palings from their wooden fence and faced off in Douglas Street on Monday night.
Mr Archer was at work, while his wife was out bowling, but the pair watched the brawl unfold on the evening news.
‘‘I was a little bit horrified, because I looked on the news and thought, 'oh that's my house'," Mrs Archer said.
The couple weren't able to return home until 11pm on Monday.
But the couple aren't fazed by the disturbance or the damage to their property.
‘‘It's just a fence,’’ Mr Archer said. ‘‘We're lucky they didn't get into the house.’’
Feuding families may have the option to move
The Queensland premier says warring families in Logan, south of Brisbane, may be asked to consider moving to avoid more violence.
Police called in the riot squad at Logan, south of Brisbane, on Monday night to control a confrontation between an Aboriginal family and a Pacific Islander family.
Premier Campbell Newman said the state government would consider relocating the families involved, if they agreed.
‘‘There are some of these people in public housing and if they wish to move to a different location so we can defuse these things - those are the sorts of things we’d do with people’s co-operation,’’ he told reporters on Tuesday.
‘‘I’d ask them to consider any offers that we might make like that.’’
Police meet with elders
Meetings between community elders will be held on Tuesday in a bid to resolve the ongoing dispute.
Local resident Abraham Sailor, whose family’s home was damaged in the clashes, said he wanted the violence to end.
‘‘I’m just praying to God that this war is over because I don’t want to see anyone hurt,’’ he told 612 ABC Brisbane.
‘‘We are humble people. We’re not terrorists, our Aboriginal people. But we’ve been terrorised.’’
"It only takes one or two hot heads''
Superintendent Powers admitted there were racial tensions in Logan, but said he did not believe they were behind the latest bout of violence.
‘‘I’d be a fool to say there are not tensions within some races in the Logan community - the Logan district is the most multicultural and diverse city in Australia,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve got over 250 cultures, in excess of 100 nationalities living in this one area ...‘‘It only takes one or two hot heads, a little alcohol, a little violence, and it just disrupts and undoes all the work we’ve done towards [being a peaceful community].’’
Call for calm
Premier Campbell Newman has joined police in appealing for calm and Cr Parker has demanded a ‘‘zero tolerance’’ approach to violence in the multicultural community.
As police fought to control the crowd on the street on Monday night, Cr Parker called for more police officers on the beat.
‘‘If I was the mayor and had the power [former mayor] Rudy Giuliani had in New York I would have zero tolerance," she told 612 ABC Brisbane.
‘‘I would have the police force here. As a council I want to see additional cameras rolling out to help the police with the intelligence they need and if they need the mobile camera down the street at any time, I'm happy to put it there.
‘‘Until this tension between these two families can be settled down I'd encourage the police to organise a meeting with the elders as soon as possible so they can have an influence with these young ones.’’
"We've had enough of it''
Cr Parker said 99 per cent of the multicultural community was always dignified, and different groups were becoming stigmatised because of the actions of a few.
She said more police were being delivered to Logan in the next few months but she would like to see more officers than already promised.
‘‘One incident like this brings the whole city down, all the good work we've been doing, transforming, making Logan the city of choice, and it is the city of choice,’’ she said.
‘‘Ninety-nine per cent of our residents are law abiding citizens doing amazing things and it's not fair that less than one per cent brings our city down.
‘‘We've had enough of it.’’
"Everyone needs to cool down''
Logan Pacific Islander elder Ofa Fukofuka denied there was problem between the two communities and maintained the city’s youths were the real issue.
He said because Logan was so multicultural, people tended to be identified by their ethnic groups.
‘‘If there was real racial tension, these people wouldn’t be able to live side by side like they do,’’ he said.
‘‘Everyone just needs to cool down and realise just because there is a disagreement between two youths from different groups, it doesn’t mean there is tension between those groups.’’
A 17-year-old and a 21-year-old, both from Slacks Creek, have been charged with causing a public nuisance and obstructing police on Sunday night.
The pair will face Beenleigh Magistrates Court - the teenager on January 28 and the man on February 28.
- with Amy Remeikis, Bridie Jabour and AAP