Enraged motorcyclists (Pem-Pem riders) resorted to mob violence in Redlight, Paynesville yesterday in retaliation for the alleged killing of their fellow rider by a police officer.
The rioting resulted in the burning down of a police substation. An eyewitness said, some of the riders reportedly surrounded the LNP detail in the Redlight Community near the general parking station, before setting it ablaze.
They also set ablaze an LNP assigned motorbike that was reportedly conveying police reinforcements to the scene of the clash.
The cyclists accused a police officer of beating one of their colleagues to death following a heated dispute between the police officer (not named) and a rider only identified as Alfred. The police allegedly hit Alfred on the head with a baton, instantly ending the rider’s life.
According to another narrative, the entire saga began at GSA Road around 2 p.m. when the news broke out that one police officer assigned at the junction had reportedly manhandled a cyclist with his baton leading to the cyclist’s death.
Eyewitnesses said when news of the incident leading to the death of cyclist Alfred reached his colleagues in Redlight, the riders erupted in anger and began throwing stones at police officers in the area.
The baton wielding police swung into action in an attempt to bring the disturbance under control but appeared to be no match for the angry motorcyclists.
Several police officers reportedly sustained serious injuries and were taken to a nearby health facility where they were admitted, eye-witnesses said.
By 3 p.m., the situation had intensified to the extent that even officers from the Police Emergency Response Unit (ERU) that were brought in to bring the situation under control could not overpower the enraged riders. The ERU resorted to the use of tear gas to disperse rioters.
By then the entire situation had incited many other motorcyclists, whose violent reaction caused businesses in the Redlight and its surrounding communities to abruptly close their doors to avoid being caught in the disturbance. The pandemonium caused a disruption of the free flow of traffic in the already congested commercial district.
Since there was no fire truck around, the fire set off allegedly by the cyclists became uncontrollable, burning down the police station.
The remains of the deceased, whose identity was not confirmed up to press time last night, have already been deposited at a local mortuary awaiting further investigation.
Several cyclists reportedly vowed to continue their mob action to ensure that police officers no longer take undue advantage of them. They claim that they have suffered such treatment in the past, though they could not be specific as to what happened in the past.
As the evening hours approached yesterday, police reinforcements arrived and made sweeping arrests of a number of suspects in the riot action.
Meanwhile, Police Spokesperson, Sam Collins, has confirmed the death of one cyclist, as well as the burning of the police depot and the police motorbike.
He also said several suspects had been arrested in connection with the mob violence that followed the GSA incident.
He, however, promised that the law would take its course and those arrested will have their day in court.