There is an increased police presence in Hamilton and ambulance staff have been issued with “lightweight tactical vests” in case a planned brawl on Friday afternoon goes ahead.
Hato Hone St John Area Operations Manager Adrian Gavin said in a statement on Friday, the vests are designed to provide protection from stabbings and slashes.
Gavin said it is an additional layer of safety, in case ambulance staff are needed.
“The safety of our people is paramount, and the use of vests does not change our standard approach, which is to only deploy ambulances crews into environments with risk of violence when cleared by NZ Police,” Gavin told Newshub.
Information for the event titled “Battle of the Hoods 2023” has gained attention on social media. Concerningly, part of the advertisement said “weapons aloud” and “stab for stab”.
Residents of Hamilton say they are concerned about the potential brawl. One woman who lives across from one of the potential sites for the planned fight says she is moving her family away.
“I am getting my family away, not going to be here.” she told Newshub.
She went doorknocking to tell her neighbours there could be trouble later saying she was worried about young kids.
However, a community leader has warned the planned brawl in Hamilton could happen earlier and the post circulating on social media is a “distraction”.
Reformed prisoner and Kiwi-Strength founder Daniel Rudolph, from Hamilton, told Ryan Bridge on AM he has been told the post was a “distraction” and the fight will be earlier somewhere else. However, he doesn’t know where or when.
Rudolph, who started a powerlifting gym to help people turn their lives around, believes it is youths organising the fight.
“It’s pretty disgusting. I never thought I would see that here in New Zealand,” Rudolph said.
The neighbourhoods singled out by those organising the fight are Fairfield, Nawton and Melville, which are home to some of the country’s lowest socio-economic communities.
These particular neighbourhoods have seen violent brawls between youths before.
The fight is planned to happen at the bus exchange where Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate told AM there have been a few youth fights before but “nothing of this nature”.
“We have never come across something broadcast, if you like, across social media so widely, inviting people to participate in this type of activity,” Southgate said.
“That’s the really sad part for me is that it incites people to use weapons and hurt each other. The other sad part for me is that it pits one neighbourhood against the other.”
Southgate said while it could be a prank, they are taking it very seriously.
“We know that we have to tackle some crime issues in the city and you can’t take these things lightly.”
Police told Newshub it can’t share details of their plans in Hamilton, but said there will be officers deployed to the area who will be actively monitoring the situation.
“I am confident that Hamilton will be kept safe,” Southgate said.
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