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Melbourne: Police used pepper spray on fans at the Australian Open on Tuesday when crowd trouble hit the Grand Slam event for the second year running.

Three people were evicted and interviewed for assaulting police, failing to obey lawful direction and indecent language.

In a statement, Victoria Police said they resorted to the spray because they feared for their safety after fans became aggressive toward them, having failed to cut out what they described as "offensive chanting".

The fracas happened during the first-round match involving last year's runner-up Fernando Gonzalez of Chile and Konstantinos Economidis, a Greek qualifier.

At around 8:20 pm local time (1120 hrs GMT), Gonzalez had been leading 6-4,1-2 when the match was stopped for around 10 minutes and the fans were removed from the stadium by police.

Eyewitnesses said trouble started when police stepped in to deal with a group of around 40 fans, who had been singing loudly between points in the match on Margaret Court Arena.

"It was upsetting, I've never seen anything like it in my life at a tennis match," Stephen Butterick, a BBC Radio producer said.

"The whole atmosphere had been like a Davis Cup match crossed with a football match.

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what a bunch of boloney. it wasn't "the police" using pepper spray, it was one bade apple. if you watch the replay, the female security guard (or maybe she was a full fledged police officer but she didn't act like it)..., anyway the male officer was in there trying to separate people and she backs up away from the fray and watches with this scared look on her face, and then right after the male officer calms things down she buts in there really quick and sprays right at one guy but it goes all over everyone in front, to the side and behind the guy. then she runs off!!! aren't you supposed to then hand cuff someone after you spray them? isn't that the point, to subdue them? she needs to be fired, the training officer of the force as well, and I'm sure there are lawyers lining up to sue the tournament or the city.
Totally agree. I was some weird tape. I can't believe it happened like that. The main guy that got sprayed wasn't even violent. he may have been cussing or something, but there was no physical action..... it will be interesting to see what the fallout is of this.
Wow, I'm more surprised at Skeets report than this actual article. Really appalling stuff. This looks like a case of being in the right place at the wrong time for the people who got maced.
There surely were enough witnesses to get that "officer" fired. She clearly abused her "power', abused and misused.


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