‘television from Harlem’ and the ‘anti-Hoon laws’

Its not all that often that I get really homesick, but this item twanged a few lumpen-nostalgia chords. The article contains some choice quotes. Councillor Roz Blades in particular seems the most stupid with her ‘television from Harlem’ quip, and the very idea that there are ‘anti-hoon laws’ makes me not at all surprised that ‘flares were thrown’ and ‘police were pelted with bottles’. I do want to know how this is related to the Cronulla beach race trouble of a little over a year ago? So, is there a racial element to this? I mean beside Councillor Blades’ racist analogy? From afar it seems like normal Dandy friday night entertainment – people brought their sofas out to sit and watch the burn-outs in style. I suppose they trashed the DVD store because it did not have enough rental copies of the video of the hoon event…

This is from Melbourne’s newspaper The Age:

Burn-out crowd goes on the rampage

This Blockbuster Video store was trashed and looted by a mob of youths early on Saturday.

This Blockbuster Video store was trashed and looted by a mob of youths early on Saturday.
Photo: Justin McManus

Chantal Rumble
January 14, 2007

Six men face charges after a crowd turned on police during an illegal burn-out gathering in Melbourne’s south-east early yesterday.

More than 1000 people, including women and children, congregated at the corner of the Princes Highway and Elonera Road, Noble Park, on Friday night for a regular illegal burn-out session, but police cordoned off the intersection soon after 1am yesterday and the crowd became violent.

A DVD store was trashed and looted, and police were pelted with bottles.

A pizza shop and an electrical goods store were also damaged, two bus stops were smashed, bins were set alight and road signs destroyed. Witnesses reported seeing flares thrown.

“My reaction is complete and absolute horror,” said Roz Blades, councillor and former mayor of the City of Greater Dandenong. “In 30 years in this area, I have never seen anything like it. It looks more like something you’d see on television from Harlem.”

Fifty extra police and the dog squad were called in to control the situation. Six men, aged between 18 and 32, were arrested and released but are expected to be charged with traffic and criminal offences.

Police seized five cars, some under new anti-hoon laws.

The busy corner, with a 24-hour McDonald’s restaurant on one corner, has been a favourite Friday night hang-out for hoons and their fans for decades.

Cr Alan Gordon, chairman of Dandenong Council’s community roads reference group, said the site’s popularity had been growing, attracting some 2000 people last weekend, many bringing couches from which to watch the illegal burn-outs.

The trend attracted extensive talkback radio coverage last week, which witnesses said added to the hype and the push towards violence, similar to the build-up to the Cronulla riots in December 2005.

“They are just Aussie kids going out for a Friday night,” Cr Gordon said.

“It just amazes me that they are so organised: the radio, SMS, their website. They are just so well equipped. I would never have thought we’d have this sort of thing in Melbourne, but now we do. It’s a bit of a shame.”

He said the police and council had worked closely last week to prevent violence at the burn-out events, but to no avail. “A lot of the residents around here have been here for many, many years and I don’t think they are going to take things into their own hands, but I think they expect both the council and police to work together to fix the problem,” Cr Gordon said.

“Police and the council have been working together this week and look what we’ve got to show for it.” He described the police response of about 50 officers and a dog squad as inadequate. “I would have thought you would have had more police. Fifty or 70 cops, compared to over 1000 youths, isn’t enough.”

Victoria Police acting Assistant Commissioner Gavin Barry said although extra traffic units were in the area on Friday night, “we had no way of knowing that the gathering would become so hostile and threatening towards police”.

Police Association secretary Paul Mullett said officers were “hopelessly outnumbered” and called on Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon to urgently audit police resources.”

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