For fear of street crimes

An Australian town imposes a curfew on people under 18 years old

  • Alice Springs includes several large indigenous communities. From the source

  • Northern Tiroti State Premier Eva Lawler extended the curfew until six in the morning. Archive


Emotions were running high in the Australian town of Alice Springs this week, as mourners attended the funeral of an 18-year-old man who was killed when an attack occurred on the café he owned, destroying its windows and smashing its doors. The violence that broke out on Tuesday and clashes later that night, in which about 150 people armed with axes, machetes and knives, were the straw that broke the camel's back for officials in the state of Northern Tiroti in South Australia.

State Prime Minister Eva Lawler said when she announced a two-week curfew for children between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in the center of the state, this meant that “enough is enough.” She added, “If anyone under the age of 18 is seen, they will be taken home or To a safe place, as children are no longer safe on the street.”

Since then, relative calm has returned to Alice Springs, or Mbarntwe, as its traditional name is, but controversy has raged over the effectiveness of the emergency measures, which some have described as a knee-jerk response to complex social issues.

Some Indigenous groups and leaders have backed the state premier's steps as necessary, but others say what local children need is support, not more police in a country with a low age of criminal responsibility and high imprisonment rates for Indigenous youth.

“The causes of last Tuesday’s violence emerged three weeks ago, when an 18-year-old young man died in a car accident during the early hours of March 8,” officials in Northern Tirutiri state said.

At the time, local news reports said he was driving a suspected stolen car when it quickly turned onto a street and flipped over him. Eight people fled the scene.

The founder of the Action Group for Alice, Darren Clarke, said that a group of young men attacked the town on Tuesday, smashing windows before attacking the famous Todd Tavern Hotel. He added to GB2 radio station that a group of young men “were seeking revenge.” They were looking for the driver of the car.”

According to police, the mourners came to Alice Springs from the town of Utopia, an area about 230 kilometers (143 miles) to the northeast, which includes several large indigenous communities.

The German settlers named this town Utopia, which is said to have been famous for the abundance of rabbits in it, as they were fascinated by the abundance of rabbits there, and they were easy to hunt. It is now famous as a center for indigenous artists, whose works are sold around the world.

The town of “Utopia” suffers from the same problems found in indigenous communities throughout Australia, such as overcrowding in one house, high rates of violence, unemployment, and alcoholism.

These issues are widely considered a legacy of colonialism that lasted nearly two centuries, which further disenfranchised the traditional owners of the land and their ancestors. Decades of racism and neglect erupted on the streets of Alice Springs on Tuesday, even though youth crime is seen as a serious problem in many other Australian cities.

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Unsafe homes

Alice Springs Mayor Matt Peterson told Channel 10's "The Project" program that some children go out into the streets at night because it is safer than being at home. He added, "These children go out to the streets because their parents are addicted to alcohol, and they spend most of their time drunk, or because there is a lot of sexual violence inside the home." If this ban saves the lives of children, it is because it gives the police the opportunity to take them to safer places than their homes, and I believe that the matter deserves such a ban.”