PROTESTERS are gearing up for further riots outside Bob Jane T-Mart stores this weekend after the cancellation of the Easternats drag racing meet, a court has heard.
Facebook pages have been set up and messages posted on car websites encouraging protesters to ”have another riot” similar to the upheaval in Oakleigh last month, the Melbourne Magistrates Court was told.
Police yesterday opposed bail for two teenagers – Aziz Elbayeh and Omar Amr – who are accused of joining the Oakleigh riot on March 19, in which about 100 police officers faced off against 2000 protesters.
The two men, both 19, from Springvale and Springvale South, have been charged with inciting a riot, rioting, affray, burglary, theft and criminal damage over the Oakleigh riot, which left a Bob Jane T-Mart store with a $50,000 damage bill.
The bail hearing was told a crowd had gathered outside the store, on the corner of Warrigal Road and Princes Highway, to protest against the cancellation of the Easternats event, which was to be held at Calder Park this weekend.
Bob Jane was involved in trying to set up the Easternats event, but Bob Jane T-Marts, a separate company in which Bob Jane remains a director, was never involved in the event.
Constable Greer Goldsmith told the court that the protest was originally peaceful but the atmosphere degenerated about 11.30pm.
She said Amr threw a lit flare that landed close to a police officer, after which Amr and Elbayeh had walked through the crowd yelling ”Let’s start a riot! Let’s start a riot!”.
Elbayeh, who is a semi-professional soccer player for the Southern Stars Football Club, is accused of then smashing a store window with a chair while both men allegedly stole tyres and tyre rims worth an estimated $5000.
Constable Goldsmith said that for five to six days before the riot messages had appeared on Facebook and car websites publicising the protest.
She said there was no evidence to suggest Elbayeh and Amr were involved in publicising the protest on Facebook, overturning a ute in front of the Bob Jane store or injuring Fairfax photographer Wayne Hawkins, who was set upon by a mob when he began taking photographs on the night.
The court heard both men, who were university students, were respectful to their families.
Magistrate Fiona Stewart said the matters were ”incredibly serious” and adjourned the bail hearing to today.