100 unruly fans, 50 police and 12 arrests
UPDATE, 3PM: Up to 100 unruly league fans were involved in a melee that saw 12 arrests and 50 police called to streets surrounding North Ipswich Reserve after the Ipswich Rugby League (IRL) grand final on Sunday.
What started as police attempting to arrest a man inside the grounds following the Norths Tigers versus Brothers clash, escalated into a rolling series of altercations that saw one police officer taken to St Andrews Private Hospital with facial injuries.
Insp Keith McDonald told a media conference that at 4.55pm on Sunday police went to arrest a man inside the grounds of North Ipswich Reserve.
Insp McDonald said he was being arrested for obstructing police and resisting arrest.
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"The game had finished and he was not complying with officers' requests to move out of the ground. His level of behaviour wasn't what would be expected by any member of the public," Insp McDonald said. "My understanding from the incident is that he was making gestures to other members of another group as they were leaving.
"Police have asked him to desist. He has continued with those actions. Officers have moved into arrest him for obstructing them in performance of their duties.
"He has then been surrounded by his family.
"(Police) have asked for assistance to try and calm the situation down and prevent the matter from getting out of hand.
"They then moved out into Pelican St, and with the assistance of a couple of additional officers, they have arrested him for the offences of obstruct and resist."
Police felt by moving the man away from the ground they would de-escalate the situation.
That is when other people became involved.
Police called for additional assistance.
The majority of the police called to the scene were there to prevent more people getting involved.
Insp McDonald said members of the crowd become involved in "a continual movement of harassment towards police officers."
The second arrest was made in Lowry St.
A senior constable was injured and taken to hospital after the third person was arrested.
Additional units were requested and more people arrested.
"Police tried to move the crowd on and asked them to disperse," Insp McDonald said. "They refused to comply with the police officers request and unfortunately a number of persons were then arrested and further police units attended the scene."
Insp McDonald said no players were involved.
"The people involved were spectators," he said. "The IRL have made an approach to the Queensland Police Service for information in relation to the people we have arrested and they are looking at taking action, along with the QRL, under the NRL's code of conduct… if there can be any association matched between any of those people who have been arrested and the clubs involved in yesterday's grand final."
The melee primarily involved two families.
"But at its peak there was probably in the vicinity of 100 people involved in the melee," Insp McDonald said. "Most of those people weren't directly involved. They were indirectly involved, providing support for those that police were having the confrontations with.
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"They started to impact on the police officers' abilities to perform their duties.
"And that is when the crowd did swell to about 100 persons."
Insp McDonald said the incident had "nothing to do" with any disagreement between rival supporters over the result of the grand final, won by Norths 42-16.
He said it had "everything to do" with what took place after the person who was the subject of the initial arrest was "not complying with community standards".
Insp McDonald said that "alcohol was a factor in the whole incident".
As to their intoxication levels, I can't comment on that, but certainly the people arrested were affected by alcohol," he said.
A 38-year-old senior constable received abrasions to his forehead, nose, right cheek and jaw when he was punched by a person he was trying to arrest.
"He was knocked unconscious to the ground and fell face first into the asphalt surface," Insp McDonald said.
Insp McDonald said the senior constable was "extremely fortunate" not to have suffered more serious injuries.
Two female police officers received minor injuries.
The injured officer deployed capsicum spray on the offender he was trying to arrest.
One of the offenders arrested had a broken arm.
Insp McDonald said the IRL was not to blame for the incident and that the crowds at grand finals had been well behaved in recent years.
"It has been spoiled on this occasion by a number of people who have refused to comply with police requests to move on," he said.
"There are 12 arrests all up and most of those relate to serious assault on police, obstruct (police), and resist (arrest) and public nuisance."
While capsicum spray and tasers were used, Insp McDonald said it was done with restraint.
"Over the whole incident, and bearing in mind this incident has gone for over 30 minutes, police officers have shown enormous restraint," he said.
"This incident could have escalated to a higher level of violence, more police could have been injured and members of the community could have been injured.
"Officers…have used the use of force options available to them in the circumstances that needed to be deployed or utilised.
"We want to ensure the public attend these events safely…and that they have a good time and an enjoyable time, and get home safely."
Vision of the event was taken by a police officer, but Insp McDonald said further arrests were unlikely.
"We all want to create safe communities and the behaviour of these people was unacceptable by any community standards," he said.
"Police officers are…not going to be punching bags. We are members of the community as well."
The following is the list of arrests from the incident at north Ipswich Reserve:
- Male, 37, from Chuwar, charged with Assault/Obstruct and Public Nuisance
- Male, 26, from Ellen Grove, charged with Assault/Obstruct
- Male, 22, from Camira, charged with Assault/Obstruct
- Female, 22, from Bundamba, charged with Public Nuisance
- Female, 25, from Redbank Plains, charged with 2 x Serious Assault
- Male, 23, from Kingston, charged with Serious Assault Police causing Bodily Harm and Serious Assault
- Male, 19, from Redbank Plains, charged with Public Nuisance, 2 x Obstruct/Assault Police
- Male, 21, from Redbank Plains, detained for Breach of Peace
- Male, 21, from Goodna, charged with Public Nuisance and Assault/Obstruct Police
- Male, 28, from Riverview, charged with 2 x Assault/Obstruct Police and Consume Liquor in a public place (associate of Bandidos CMG)
- Male, 22, from North Booval, charged with Public Nuisance and Assault/Obstruct Police
Male, 32, from Redbank Plains, charged with 2 x Assault/Obstruct
SUNDAY, 8PM: Police have laid charges following an incident that occurred on Sunday afternoon in North Ipswich.
A man was being arrested at a football match around 5pm when it will be alleged that a large number of other people at the game attempted to intervene.
It will be further alleged that as the man was being placed into a police vehicle, a police officer was punched in the head and has then hit his face on a concrete gutter during a struggle.
Numerous police units have then responded to the large disturbance, and as a result have taken a number of people into custody.
The police officer has been taken to St Andrews Private Hospital for treatment of facial injuries.
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Police have charged a 25-year-old Redbank Plains woman and a 23-year-old Kingston man with two counts each of serious assault police.
Police have also charged a 25-year-old Ellen Grove man with one count of obstruct police, a 19-year-old Redbank Plains man and a 21-year-old Goodna man with two counts of obstruct police and one count of public nuisance each, a 25-year-old Riverview man with two counts of obstructing police, a 22-year-old Carina man with one count of obstruct police and a 22-year-old North Booval man with one count each of public nuisance and obstruct police.
They are all due to appear in Ipswich Magistrates Court on October 16.
Police are also appealing if anyone witnessed the incident or took any footage to please contact them via Police Link or Crime Stoppers.
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SUNDAY, 6PM: A CROWD brawl that put a police officer in hospital took the gloss off great day of rugby league on Sunday.
The officer was taken to St Andrew's hospital with facial injuries after he was attacked following the Ipswich Rugby League Grand Final.
According to police an officer was in the process of arresting a person at North Ipswich Reserve when they were set upon by a group of around 100.
Every officer in the district was rushed to the field with lights and sirens activated.
Around 12 people were arrested at the scene when police began to arrive.
Police crews were arriving for some time following the initial incident.
The incident had cooled by 6.15pm; however, police remained on alert for hours following the brawl with tensions remaining high.