19 April, 2024
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Curfew, extra cops: emergency grips Alice Springs

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Children in Alice Springs will not be allowed outside their homes at night after the Northern Territory government mandated an emergency curfew to curb escalating violence in the red centre.

Chaos descended on Alice Springs on Tuesday afternoon when a large group attacked the Todd Tavern, leaving a $30,000 damage bill, as tensions escalated following the death of a teenager.

Chief Minister Eva Lawler labelled the attack horrific and unacceptable.

 An emergency has been declared in Alice Springs by the Northern Territory government after a group of young people attacked a pub and brawls broke out. Video by Neve Brissenden 

“We never want to see anything like that in the Northern Territory again,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

“I’m fed up with this appalling level of crime and anti-social behaviour.

“The community has had enough.”

A curfew from 6pm to 6am will be enforced for children and teens aged 18 and under for two weeks.

An additional 58 police officers will be deployed to the troubled town of about 30,000 people.

Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said the group involved in the clash were from the Utopia region, northwest of Alice Springs, and were in town commemorating the death of a family member.

On March 8, an 18-year-old died after hanging out of the window of a stolen car that rolled in the Alice Springs CBD.

 NT Police Commissioner Michael Murphy says a brawl caused more than ,000 damage to a pub. Image by Neve Brissenden/AAP PHOTOS 

He was crushed and killed by the vehicle and left there by the driver and passengers.

“We saw really violent behaviour yesterday associated with (that) death,” he said.

“That’s led to family feuds and that erupted in Alice Springs yesterday in a couple of locations.”

Mr Murphy said the group were in the CBD paying their respects at the location of the teenager’s death when about 70 individuals “took things into their own hands”.

Footage of the incident has been shared widely on social media and depicts several young people throwing themselves at the glass doors of the pub. 

 Almost 60 extra police will be sent to help control an outbreak of violence at Alice Springs. Image by Aaron Bunch/AAP PHOTOS 

Cars in the area were smashed and hit with rocks and bricks and a 16 and 18-year-old were arrested at the location.

Later on Tuesday evening, the ceremony continued at Hidden Valley town camp outside Alice Springs when more than 150 people were involved in a violent brawl.

“Family were undertaking some further ceremony and the opposing family then came outside that camp and about 150 people engaged in a violent confrontation with numerous weapons, tomahawks axes, knives and clubs,” Mr Murphy said.

The brawl resulted in broken windows, smoke damage to a house and a car set on fire.

Three people aged 19, 31 and 50 have been arrested and 50 weapons have been seized including spears, axes and clubs.

He said NT Police was reviewing footage of the incidents and was preparing to make more arrests.

Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson took to social media to express his frustration with the violence.

 Northern Territory Chief Minister Eva Lawler hit out at the behaviour in Alice Springs. Image by Neve Brissenden/AAP PHOTOS 

“Horrendous doesn’t cut it, but I have run out of words,” he said.

“I don’t know if there is a big enough rooftop to scream from – that we need help.

“To the people who were locked in buildings today to the people who were affected with damage or weapons, my thoughts are with you.”

Mr Paterson has previously called for federal assistance or a military intervention in the desert town.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said she hoped the curfew would be the circuit breaker that would improve community safety, and promised to work with the Territory government and community leaders towards a better future for central Australia.  

Senator Jacinta Price made an impassioned plea for federal parliament to commit to a more tangible response.

“Those responsible for the millions of dollars going to the services in my community, need to do their part to stop this kind of behaviour in our community,” she said.

Central Land Council chair Matthew Palmer said it was “never okay to frighten residents and damage their property”.

“Young people should not take matters into their own hands but follow cultural leadership and authority.”

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