About 300 people were involved in a “disturbance”, some fighting with weapons, in Wadeye on Sunday, with officers using chemicals to disperse them NT Police have said. But one police source has told the NT Independent that allowing general duties officers to use CS gas is potentially dangerous due to a lack of training.
Senior Sergeant Bradley Fox said in a statement on Monday afternoon at about 5pm there were about 300 people gathered on the oval, fighting using blunt and edged weapons. He did not detail what weapons were allegedly used.
He said one 26-year-old man was taken to the local clinic with an arm injury, and rocks were thrown at police vehicles.
“Chemical munitions were deployed by police to assist with crowd dispersal,” he said.
“Investigations are ongoing to assist with the identification and removal of offenders from the community.
“Attacks on our officers as they protect the community will not be tolerated.”
One police source said the media statement did not disclose that the Territory Response Group had been deployed but there was chemical being used against people, meaning it was general duties officers using the gas which they said could be dangerous.
“That confirms your previous Wadeye story as general duties are not trained, nor were they ever approved, to use chemicals,” they said.
“So they definitely sent a TRG member to Wadeye to train and supply GDs (general duties officers) there with chemical munitions. It’s pretty dangerous as GDs do not do regular training with them.
“They won’t have knowledge of side effects or how they operate if they get exposed as the only staff exposed to chemicals are TRG members.
“They won’t have enough training to provide decontamination or how to operate themselves if they accidentally get exposed and are in a fight situation.”
The latest report of violence follows rioting in the community in April and reports of violence over the previous several months.
One man was killed after being speared in the head, health clinic staff were seriously injured, police officers were told not to leave the station compound at night, and 37 homes were set on fire during ongoing violence, that were initially not made public by NT Police or the Gunner Government, sources told the NT Independent at the time.
One source, with knowledge of the situation in the remote community about 240km southwest of Darwin, said at the time it was “absolute mayhem” in the town which has been the scene of violence and rioting for some time.
“Clinic staff have been seriously injured following riots, after someone speared another man through the head with a metal pole and killed him last week,” they said.
“Health advised one of the clinic staff was speared through the leg.
“(Police) members were also injured.
“No Territory Response Group deployed because they were doing CPP (close personal protection) for the Prime Minister who was here for the Anzac service.
“Police members have been told not to go out (of the compound).”
Several sources had told the NT Independent there have been at least 37 houses in the community burn, including ten newly built homes.
NT Police had made the death of the man public at the time, with a man arrested for murder over his death.