Alleged racism before street brawl – witness

Friday night fun turned into a street brawl after alleged racist comments were made at popular Auckland eatery last night.

The owner of the Vodka Room, who asked not to be named, confirmed to the Herald that a brawl occurred outside the Ponsonby bar and restaurant late last night, and that it followed racial comments being made to staff.

In an emailed statement late tonight the owner wrote that Vodka Room was “deeply saddened” by the incident.

“We are proud to oppose all forms of bigotry and xenophobia. Consideration is being given to extending private security at the venue, though it troubles us deeply that such a thing needs to be considered.”

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A police spokeswoman said there was “no indication in the job that there was a racial element to the incident”.

But a video published by Fairfax shows punches being thrown as several people tussle in the middle of Williamson Ave, a major thoroughfare which runs off Ponsonby Rd.

Others attempt to break up the melee, with some vehicles forced to stop to avoid striking those involved.

Foul language is bleeped out in the video, which ends as some of those involved are pushed away by others, including one man whose shirt has almost been pulled from his body.

Fairfax reported that the 30-strong brawl began, according to a witness, when a group of men and women described as Caucasian yelled racial comments at bar staff of Indian descent.

Patrons of either Middle Eastern or Asian descent were also abused, the witness said.

“They were making remarks about non-New Zealand residents in New Zealand … go back to your country and things like that, really,” the witness told Fairfax.

The Caucasian group were asked to leave by staff before the fight began. It calmed down after authorities arrived, the witness said.

A police spokeswoman told the Herald they were alerted at 11.09pm and the job was coded as disorder.

There were no injuries and it was reported to police as “no physical violence”, she said.

“Police attended and spoke to a witness however the groups involved had dispersed. There is no indication in the job that there was a racial element to the incident.”

New Zealand Herald – Top Stories

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