The hospitalisation of a 15-years-old boy kicked in the head in a suspected sectarian assault at the weekend has sparked fears parts of the Waterside are becoming ‘no-go’ areas.
Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson issued the warning after police received a report that the teenager was set upon, had his shirt ripped off, and was dragged into the middle of Rossdowney Road on Saturday night.
Police confirmed the incident is being treated as a sectarian assault.
Colr. Jackson said: “There can be no place for sectarianism in our city. Those responsible need to realise the possible consequences of their actions. At a time when communities in the Waterside are striving to cement peace and encourage reconciliation it would appear that there is a very small minority intent on living in the past.
“I have been warning over recent times about an increase in such attacks. And we cannot allow a situation that during the hours of darkness parts of the Waterside become no-go areas.”
SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly said: “My thoughts are with the young teenager and I hope he makes a full mental and physical recovery after this despicable attack.
“Thanks must be extended to the motorist who intervened otherwise this assault could have had far more distressing consequences.
“There is no place for this brutality in society and it is not indicative of the shared future to which we aspire.
“People across the Waterside will be keen to offer this young person their full support and all of us in positions of responsibility in society need to work together to stamp out sectarianism.”
Inspector William Calderwood said police received a report that the teen and his friends were stopped by a group of around 30 youths at around 10.10 p.m. on Saturday.
He said: “One of the males in the group, described as being at least five-feet six-inches tall with brown hair and a blonde fringe, aged 16 or 17 and wearing glasses, stopped and spoke to the boy. It was reported this male then called over three other youths who were with him and the 15-years-old boy was assaulted. The victim sustained a number of kicks to his head, face and back and a punch to his face.
“His shirt was also ripped off him. The attack ended up on the middle of the road where, at some point, the victim was able to get to his feet and run up the road towards a roundabout.”
Inspector Caldwell, describing the attack as “vicious,” said it was being treated as a hate crime.
“The victim subsequently attended hospital where he was treated for his injuries, which included bruising to his back and face, grazes to his arms and legs and a chipped tooth,” he said.
DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: “Obviously this has to be condemned. That type of activity is not welcome anywhere in the city and people will be rightly disgusted by it.”