What sparked ‘deplorable’ St Kilda attack
The group of young men behind a senseless attack at St Kilda have been slammed by leaders of their own community.
As many as 20 youths of African appearance are wanted over a December 1 bashing on the esplanade not far from Melbourne's CBD.
CCTV footage of the attack, which was shared by Victoria Police yesterday, shows three men cowering while they're punched and kicked over and over again. For good measure, the offenders took the victims' wallets and mobile phones.
As police search for those responsible, a leader of the African community in Melbourne says enough is enough.
"It's absolutely deplorable," lawyer Maker Mayek told news.com.au. "So many young people descending on one person is horrible. I was appalled when I saw it."
The campaigner who helped his community reclaim the #AfricanGangs hashtag also slammed those on social media who rejected the use of the term "African Australians" in describing those responsible.
Many, including those who commented on news.com.au's Facebook page, suggested they're "not Australians".
Mr Mayek said that's plainly wrong.
"To those people, I say that prejudice is everywhere. Those comments are the result of prejudice. They look at a person's skin colour and make a judgment.
"Most came here when they were one, two or three-years-old or were born here. They're Australian. There's no way to deny that. Somebody who is born here, has an Australian passport, is a resident of Australia - they're Australian. They share more in common with Australians than anyone else."
He said it was important to remember that "a crime is not worse because the person who commits that crime isn't white".
Mr Mayek also rejected claims that those responsible were part of a "gang".
"They're not gangs. They're a bunch of cousins, relatives, friends who are all hanging out together. They drink alcohol and do silly things in the process."
WHAT SPARKED ST KILDA ATTACK
Police labelled the attack "unprovoked" but Mr Mayek said it was possible somebody "said something" before the group of youths confronted three men about 11.15pm.
"Racist words - sometimes there's somebody that would've said something, but the attackers should've exercised restraint."
Police said the confrontation started when three men were walking along the foreshore. After being approached, they were punched and kicked.
The victims attempted to walk away but were approached and hassled by the group again, police say. That's when a number of other young males joined in.
One of the victims, a 24-year-old man from Burwood East, suffered a broken nose and facial bruising. His wallet and phone were stolen and he was transported to hospital for treatment.
A second victim, a 26-year-old man from Wheelers Hill, tried to intervene and was knocked out by a kick to the head. He suffered lacerations to his face and was also taken to hospital for treatment.
A third victim, a 20-year-old man from Vermont South, was chased from the area and suffered minor injuries but did not require treatment.
Mr Mayek has a message for those responsible.
"Go to school, find jobs, prepare for your future."
He said that's all the community wants for them, and that's all their parents want for them.
"We're ambitious and we want to see them succeed."
Anyone with information, who recognises the males or who may have footage of the incident are urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 0000 or submit a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au