Jake Nowakowski was the only press photographer on the ground at last weekend’s Moomba Festival in Melbourne. It’s likely the Herald Sun snapper was sent to just capture the atmosphere of the event; of course, what he ended up with was an instantly iconic shot from the middle of a frantic maelstrom.

Speaking to Madeleine Morris on ABC’s 7.30 tonight, Nowakowski revisited the Federation Square precinct where hundreds of youths basically incited a riot. He recalled the scene, describing how rampant chants of “fuck the police” evolved into open provocations to the officers on duty. As the mood in the crowd intensified, police eventually used their OC foam to disperse the masses. 

To Nowakowski, the most baffling thing was the random nature of it all; he described the scene as full of teenagers from a very varied ethnic background, all milling around the area without a hint of violence before it all kicked off.

That stands in contrast to the footage taken of the scene afterwards, showing a torrent of teens – some of whom were later identified as members of the Apex group – tearing through the precinct, forcing restaurant patrons to be locked inside as police took control of the scene. 

Norris also spoke to a member of Apex, who claims fellow members have been unfairly targeted by the media, due to “basically racism.” James*, one of the group’s members of South Sudanese descent, claimed the group isn’t a gang, and that there wasn’t a defined motive behind the numerous brawls.

 

That’s still up for debate, especially after reports the whole fracas was the result of a rivalry with another, competing “group.” 

Even in the days after the furore died down, Melbourne is still trying to work out what the bloody hell happened. It almost seemed like Nowakowski is, too – but, in the meantime, we’ve got a pretty stunning, if shocking, image for us to dissect.

*Not his real name.

Source: ABC. 
Photo: 
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