Monday, December 12, 2005
Cronulla Beach in Sydney, New South Wales was the scene of racist mob-violence yesterday. In what has been described as disgusting, un-Australian and shameful behaviour, participants in a 5000-strong mob assaulted people suspected of being of Lebanese origin. The angry, alcohol-fuelled crowd also turned on anyone who tried to help the victims, including police, security guards and ambulance officers.
Sutherland Shire Mayor Kevin Schreiber says inflammatory text messages calling for revenge attacks fueled the violence. Mr Schreiber said the heavily-circulated messages ensured troublemakers went to the southern Sydney beach looking for a fight. Police had patrolled the area all weekend after text messages began circulating among the community calling for vigilante responses to unwelcome visitors on the beach.
“The sending out of that text message was foolish and irresponsible and ensured that people from all over Sydney came to Cronulla looking to cause trouble and this was further fueled by alcohol,” said Mr Schreiber.
Sydney’s popular talk-back radio station 2GB also promoted Sunday’s event. Breakfast announcer Alan Jones has been accused of “fanning the flames.” Callers who recommended vigilante action were not discouraged to take the law into their own hands. Mr Jones, notorious for inflammatory comments, repeated the text message for Cronulla residents to defend their territory several times.
As the crowd marched along the beach and foreshore area, waving Australian flags, the crowd chanted racist slogans, with many wearing clothes bearing racist sentiment.
Middle Eastern men were openly targeted and assaulted. A young Muslim woman wearing a veil was chased into a kiosk on Cronulla beach. Police tried to move her away from the chanting crowd but were unable to reach the security of the command post. While the woman and police officers hid in the kiosk, a crowd surrounded the kiosk and shouted “Kill the Lebs”, while others climbed on top of the kiosk.
As police horses and special operations officers formed a line and pushed the crowd away, they were bombarded with beer bottles. After half an hour, an ambulance arrived at the kiosk and people were loaded into it. The ambulance, transporting six injured youths, escorted by police and police horses, was also bombarded with beer bottles. One struck an ambulance officer on the head. His colleague suffered lacerations to the arm.