A group of car enthusiasts allegedly attacked ACT police last night as officers investigated heavy drinking and dangerous driving across Canberra.
- Large crowds gathered to watch illegal driving at at least three sites on Friday night
- Police say they were attacked upon arriving at a gathering in Fyshwick
- Officers closed a busy street in inner-city Braddon due to safety concerns
Officers were also forced to close off a busy street in the inner-city suburb of Braddon in an attempt to disperse a growing, rowdy crowd.
ACT and New South Wales police are now investigating footage from two sites in Canberra and one on the Federal Highway in NSW, just across the border in Sutton.
Speaking to media today, ACT Policing Detective Inspector Adrian Craft warned motorists police would be “out in force tonight” to prevent similar incidents.
Officers were called to the industrial suburb of Fyshwick about 10:40pm, where a large crowd had gathered near a petrol station at the corner of Yallourn Street and Canberra Avenue.
Inspector Craft said officers had parked 100 metres from the crowd and angry spectators immediately surrounded them.
“They were banging on the vehicle,” he said.
“The police made a decision to withdraw themselves and reassess what was going on.
Earlier in the evening, officers closed off Lonsdale Street in Braddon, which had become clogged with spectators watching passing cars do burnouts.
Police said they had arrived at the area in response to complaints of “dangerous driving combined with large numbers of people consuming alcohol and engaging in anti-social behaviour”.
Officers shut it off to traffic to protect public safety, they said.
‘We’ve got numberplates, we’ve got dates and times’
Social media was awash with videos last night displaying unlawful driving cheered on by large crowds.
Inspector Craft said no charges had yet been laid, nor had anyone been fined.
But he said police had already collected a large amount of evidence and would act shortly.
“We’ve got numberplates, we’ve got dates and times,” Inspector Craft said.
“So the drivers involved in those kind of things can expect to be visited by police … and if it satisfies the requisite levels within the legislation, they can expect to have their vehicles seized.”
Inspector Craft also warned motorists any repeat of the “selfish” behaviour seen last night would be punished swiftly.
“Everybody’s tough in a group,” he said.
“We’ll be out in force tonight to deal with this sort of behaviour.
“They want to carry on that sort of thing, they’ll be met appropriately and dealt with appropriately.”
‘Everybody wants to comment’: Reports that police hit bystanders
Several people have used social media to allege the crowd at Fyshwick only became unruly after a police vehicle collided with bystanders.
When asked about the reports, Inspector Craft said police would investigate any genuine complaint.
“Everybody wants to make a comment on social media and everybody wants to say things,” he said.
“But the level of actual veracity around a complaint turns up when people turn up at a police station.
Meanwhile, the NSW Police Force is investigating reports of similar behaviour on the Federal Highway.
A police spokeswoman said officers observed motorists gathering at the spot — known as Eaglehawk in Sutton — on Thursday and Friday nights.
“Police have been told members of the group were blocking road access to allegedly conduct burnouts and travel at high speed in the area,” she said.
“More than 60 cars were observed at the scene however the crowd dispersed upon police arrival.”
A policeman was injured at the same spot in Sutton last year, where motorists pelted officers with rocks and bottles as they arrived to stop the burnouts.
Car enthusiasts usually gather in Canberra at this time of year to attend the annual Summernats festival.
However, this year’s event was cancelled because the ACT Government is using the festival site, Exhibition Park, to conduct COVID-19 testing.
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