“Hope isn’t a strategy for us”: Carlton community calls for action after teenager stabbed at gelato shop

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Brendan Rees

The Carlton community has reignited its call for immediate action on crime after yet another violent incident saw a teenager attacked in an alleged stabbing outside an ice-cream shop.

Police were called to Lygon St about 7.30pm on May 23 after reports an altercation had broken out between a group of males.

A 17-year-old boy was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with life-threatening injuries after suffering cuts to his neck.

It’s understood the attacker, who is still on the run, was reportedly wielding a machete at the time of the incident as horrified diners looked on.

Police said there had been no arrests and that they are investigating while the victim remained in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

The callous attack has left residents and traders frustrated and concerned over the level of crime gripping the area – with calls mounting for authorities to act.

Carlton Residents’ Association president Antoinette Sagaria said the community was “extremely concerned”, not only by the latest incident “but what has been happening in the area generally”, which included a man being shot at in a drive-by shooting one year ago and the EzyMart store on Lygon St being smashed in a burglary on May 31.

“We don’t want excuses and hope isn’t a strategy for us. We hope that the police can do more, we need a proper strategy in place as to how we’re going to deal with this uptick in crime,” she told Inner City News.

 

It comes back to what sort of suburb or what sort of city do we want to build, and this needs to be reflected in planning decisions, and unless they are hell-bent on creating a ghetto out of Carlton, I’m not sure how they expect these issues to improve.

 

“North Melbourne Police Station does as much as they can with the limited resources that they are given. But that’s not enough.”

Carlton Inc. Traders’ Association executive officer Phillip Mansour said the organisation had outlined these untoward events to the council and police “multiple, multiple times both the council and police need to improve their performance, they’re simply not doing enough immediately to protect the community.”

“There’s been crimes, shootings, stabbings, there’s even been murders here, and immediate action isn’t happening. We just need action now, not in one or two years’ time,” he said.

“They’ve taken so long to increase CCTV in the area, we’ve been going on about this for the past two years. It’s very simple. This is the difference between life and death now, immediate action is needed.”

Asked if it had a plan of action or if CCTV cameras would be installed in Carlton, the City of Melbourne referred to its draft budget 2022-23 on city cleaning and safety.

“A record $5.4 million will be invested into critical safety infrastructure and resources to keep people safe and crack down on antisocial behaviour,” it stated.

“This includes a continued focus on upgrading the safe city camera fibre network and running the digital radio system to enhance city surveillance.”

 “As always, council will continue to work closely with Victoria Police to improve safety across Melbourne.”

A Lygon St worker, who wished to remain anonymous, described seeing blood on the ground where the alleged stabbing took place as “confronting, especially somewhere so close to work.”

“I could have easily have been walking to my car, I could’ve come half an hour earlier and been caught in the middle of that so that’s a scary thought for me,” the worker said.

A long-standing trader voiced his anger at the situation saying a stronger police presence was needed otherwise “no one’s going to come here anymore.”

“I’ve seen a lot happen but not to this extent that’s for sure and not as frequent as it is now,” the trader, who wished not to be named, said.

Another trader, Dominic Dalic, also believed enough wasn’t being done despite violence having “gone through the roof.”

“This is the wild west. I think society needs to wake up, starting with politicians.”

Paul Ferraro, who runs the University Café on Lygon St, said, “Families have to feel safe to walk the streets freely and be reassured that everything is okay.” •

 

Caption: University Cafe owner Paul Ferraro and Carlton Inc executive officer Phil Mansour. Photography by Murray Enders

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