Community grieves on Greeves Street

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By Christopher Talbot  (Twitter @CDTalbot)

 

Hundreds of candles lit up the night as St Kilda residents came together to farewell slain sex worker Tracy Connelly on August 8.

The tribute was held on Greeves Street at the site where Ms Connelly was murdered in her van on Sunday July 21.

The street was decorated with coloured lanterns and local choir the Solstice Singers performed an emotional rendition of Amazing Grace; transforming one of the busiest streets in St Kilda’s red-light district into a serene and welcoming place.

St Kilda Gatehouse, a charity that supports sex-workers, hosted the event outside their headquarters – just metres from where Ms Connelly was killed.

Gatehouse CEO Sally Tonkin was touched by the community support and said she hoped the vigil would lift the negative feeling that had swept the street.

“It’s had this really dark feeling down here, and I’m hoping this will lift it,” Ms Tonkin said.

A minute of silence gave mourners from St Kilda’s tight knit community a chance to reflect on the shocking violence that had taken place on their streets.

The fence opposite Gatehouse was covered in flowers, creating a shrine of love and remembrance to a woman that was “a shining light” in the community.

Ms Connelly’s brother, Les Toft, thanked the crowd for their support and for showing that his sister meant something.

“She belonged to this community, and it’s wonderful that you are here tonight to claim her as your own,” Mr Toft said.

White Ribbon ambassador Phil Clearly urged the crowd to stand up against violence; saying that violence against women was still far too common.

He made it clear that all women should have the right to feel safe on the streets, regardless of their occupation.

The vigil coincided with the release of CCTV footage by Victoria police showing several people around Ms. Connelly’s vehicle in the early hours of July 21.

Detective Inspector John Potter said police are working on enhancing the faces of the two individuals captured, believed to be Ms. Connelly and the potential suspect.

“One of them we believe could be Tracy, that figure appears to be wearing a white or light coloured jacket and she was,” Inspector Potter said.

“The other figure we can’t identify at this point.

“It could be the killer, it’s difficult to say who the person is, the image isn’t good and it’s from a distance,” he said.

Inspector Potter said police were confident that the CCTV footage and materials “left at the scene” had provided vital leads.

Port Phillip Mayor Amanda Stevens also attended the vigil, along with MPs Jill Hennessy and Mary Wooldridge.

Tracy Connelly will be cremated in a private ceremony, with her ashes to be shared between partner Tony Melissovas and her family in Queensland.

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