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  • Writer's pictureThe Rotunda

Gang of local kids terrorise volunteers

On July 23, two volunteers dispatched to North Fitzroy’s most northern point were diligently delivering copies of The Rotunda’s second issue, working their way through Allister Street and Willowbank Road.

Gang of kids: From L - R: Joe Melzak-Parr, Anika Krishnapillai, Clara Dessi and Fred Ballard

Their operation was halted by the sudden appearance of a gang of miscreant children, roaming the suburban jungle on bikes and scooters. Charles Smith, one of the volunteers, said the unruly youths began to stalk him and his associate

“After we rounded the corner into King Street, the rascals chased us down.

“It was terrifying.”

But upon catching up to the distributors, it became clear that the kids weren’t baying for blood or money. They just wanted to be in a newspaper.

“It was a ridiculous request,” said Charles. “You don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

But thankfully the gang of four soon revealed themselves to be far less menacing than first thought. Its members – Annika Krishnapillai, Joe Melzak-Parr, Clara Dessi and Fred Ballard – were just a bunch of primary school kids wanting to break free from the classroom.

Or rather, the bedroom. The kids are currently in Grade 6 at Merri Creek Primary School (bar Fred, who’s at Our Lady Help of Christians) but have had to spend much of 2021 learning online – something they aren’t fans of.

“It’s boring,” said Annika, the gang’s leader.

“The work’s too easy,” said Fred.

Their methods of relieving boredom have varied from watching YouTube to going on bike rides to “disturbing the peace”, as Fred put it.

Do they enjoy intimidating volunteers simply trying to deliver a newspaper to the people?

“Yes,” all four of them answered in chorus.

While the gang freely admitted to causing maximum chaos, such as “drawing inappropriate things on the pavement”, they also responded with a resounding “YES!” when asked if they’re eager to return to the schoolyard. They even suggested the headline of the article be “Young local kids are looking forward to being back at school”.

Their philosophical outlook when it came to the state of the world was profound, if at times confusing.

Did COVID-19 make them worried about the future?

“No,” said Fred.

Why not?

“I don’t know, vaccines.”

Did he think the state of the world will improve?

“Probably not.”

“I think the world will hopefully get better soon,” added Annika.

So she’s optimistic about the future.

“Not really.” Interesting.

“If people get vaccinations, then yeah,” said Joe. “If they refuse, then no.”

When Charles and his fellow volunteer first spotted the gang, they assumed it was a prowling troupe of devilish juveniles.

Charles and his fellow volunteer were absolutely right. Surprisingly, however, it turned out to also be a collection of polite and educated pre-teens – a credit to their families.

“In the end it was a relief,” says Charles. “I feared the worst.”

“But we told them we weren’t going to be bullied into including them in the paper. The Rotunda has a bit more integrity than that.”

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