While the significant numbers of young people who descended on the Bay for their end-of-school celebrations were well behaved and had a good time, Schoolies HUB co-ordinator Nicqui Yazdi says a large group of kids from Lismore were out to cause trouble last Friday night.
She wrote on social media, ‘My estimate is that there were maybe 50 Lismore kids, who ranged from as young as about 11, to their mid 20s, but most in their mid to late teens.
‘Fights and scuffles broke out everywhere… One of these fights saw one local boy end up with a fractured cheekbone.’
Ms Yazdi said that the siege in Lismore that afternoon had taken police away from Byron Bay leaving them with only two police officers.
‘I wasn’t happy about the lack of police presence, which has been a common theme over the last nine years.
‘Friday night is “fight night” in Byron all year round, but when the schoolies are around, these groups of teen gangs just have more moving targets to punch and [that] night made for the most uncomfortable night of this year’s entire [Schoolies HUB] operation, and maybe for any year to date.’
The issues on Friday night are currently being investigated by police, who also believe that it involved a group of people from around the region.
But local Tweed-Byron LAC police inspector Stephen Dempsy denied there were ‘only two police officers in Byron’ last Friday night.
Inspector Dempsy told The Echo that Friday night was not a standout night for street violence in Byron and that ‘it could happen any night, is not regular and isn’t always young people.’
Ms Yazdi is calling for a Friday night youth program to help tackle violence in the Main Beach park.
‘For years, I have believed that Main Beach park on a Friday night needs the presence of an actual “program” aimed at making the park a safer area,’ said Ms Yazdi.
‘This is the chosen “hang” spot of our local kids. I’d be keen to hear suggestions from anyone as to what kind of form of Friday night program in the park would be most effective, and maybe look at implementing something.’
Overall, however, the schoolies period went well said Ms Yazdi. ‘It was relatively uneventful, bar just a few incidents.’