Cop’s warning to fed-up vigilante mob
Police have dealt a firm warning to vigilantes who decided to take the law into their own hands and tried to storm the home of an alleged youth offender.
Tensions are boiling over in the state of Queensland where reports of violent youth crime are reaching new heights.
More than 100 people rocked up to Central Park in North Rockhampton on Sunday afternoon following a former One Nation candidate’s provocative rant on social media.
On Monday, Superintendent Glen Pointing strongly discouraged community members from taking law enforcement into their own hands.
“It’s really dangerous behaviour and innocent members of the public can inadvertently get hurt,” he said.
A police negotiator told Mr O’Brien on multiple occasions during the day that the police resources required to monitor his vigilante efforts was leaving “the rest of the city exposed”.
“It just leaves the rest of the city exposed to having a lack of police to attend to other jobs,” Superintendent Pointing said.
He went on to explain that “it’s not up to members of the public to decide what evidence exists” to charge someone with a crime.
“I strongly encourage people not to take the law into their own hand,” he said.
“It’s a matter for the criminal justice system. It’s a matter for the courts. And we shouldn’t prejudge people’s actions. It should be done by the court solely.”
Investigations into the incident are continuing and Superintendent Pointing said extensive footage of the incident will be reviewed to consider whether any charges will be laid.
The tense scenes were sparked after Muay Thai gym owner and 2020 state election candidate Torin O’Brien shared a post to social media offering $5000 for details on an alleged robbery.
His post was shared more than 350 times on Facebook, with people jumping to the comments section to vent their anger at the worsening crime problem.
On Sunday morning, Mr O’Brien posted again, this time calling for a community meeting at Central Park.
“The town is angry and the police are worried … good, maybe they can feel our fear and will do more,’ he wrote.
“Stop being so gutless and take a stand WITH US.”
Police were called to the park at about 2pm before the group made their move towards two local homes where they allegedly made verbal threats to the residents.
Dramatic footage shows the moment the meeting escalated as neighbours faced off against half a dozen officers on the front lawn of a Norman Garden home.
Mr O’Brien led the charge, explaining to the gathered crowd and local media that he had largely stayed quiet about the local crime problem until recently.
“Where were you guys when my sister and her baby woke up with three of these … in her bedroom,” he said in the video.
A Queensland police spokesman said they “remain committed to preventing, disrupting and investigating crime in our local communities.”
“Information received from members of the public is continually instrumental in identifying and disrupting criminal offences,” they said.
Move-on directions were issued to 15 people and no one was injured during the incident.
Police have agreed to meet with Mr O’Brien to discuss his concerns about youth crime and law enforcement.