Monday, 12 December 2005

The Cronulla Mob

*Words and pictures by long-time Cronulla resident Benjamin Amy:*

I've just returned home after spending six hours watching the disgusting
afternoon unfold at Cronulla beach. I'm sending this to anyone that'll read

I'd seen media reports in the lead up to today's "showdown," and never
believed it was actually going to happen. In particular I noticed on page
three of Saturday's *Herald* "A lesson in beach etiquette, Shire-style"
which featured a guy named Shaun – pictured with his Aussie flag singlet,
tattoos all over him and holding a long-neck of beer in a paper bag.

Shaun dislikes visitors he says are rude. "They look down on our women," he
says. I'd never seen anyone like that at Cronulla beach and thought the
paper had exaggerated the facts about how locals felt and what they were
planning to do. I was wrong. Cronulla today was filled with loud, pis*ed,
Shaun doppelgangers, all of them looking for a fight.

When I arrived at Cronulla at about midday the crowd was fairly calm, rowdy
and yobbo-ish, though not violent. The drinking had already started, there
were BBQs being cooked in the back of utes, John Williamson music was
blaring from car stereos and the "Wall" at North Cronulla was a sea of
Australian flags, Eureka Stockade flags and boxing kangaroos. Political
correctness had already been thrown aside, with some of the guys there
screaming "f*ck off Lebs" (there wasn't a 'Leb' to be seen) and "reclaim the
shire," and with comments like "we grew here, you flew here" and "Save
Nulla, F*ck Allah" painted on their chests.

What was most unbelievable, even more so than the overt racism, was the
number of people there... There were thousands and thousands of people. It
was like the harbour foreshore on New Year's Eve or Australia Day. Roads had
been closed and the empty space created was filled thick with people. It
wasn't just twenty-something males there, there were groups of girls and
women, packs of teenagers, entire families (I just cannot understand anyone
taking their kids to participate in something like this), bikies, neo-nazis
and surfers.

I saw a group of three well-dressed 40-ish women drinking Breezers standing
atop a retaining wall chanting at the police. I saw a group of four teenage
girls (typical tanned 'Northies' Shire-girls – long hair, short skirts and
massive sunglasses) being interviewed by ABC radio with 'Multiculturalism
Doesn't Work' stickers on their backs. I saw a fifty-year-old man wearing an
'Osama Don't Surf' t-shirt. I've never seen that many people in Cronulla

About ten minutes after I got there I called a mate of mine to come down and
see what was actually happening before me – I seemed to be the only person
who was horrified about what was occurring. While I was on the phone I saw a
young Middle Eastern Australian kid walk through the carpark, about ten
metres away from me. I'd seen this kid on the news earlier this week
defending his right to swim at his local beach.

It wasn't long before he was being screamed at ("Leb c*nt", "Get off our
beach" etc) and surrounded by a group of flag draped p*ssed idiots. The kid
screamed back, fairly insistent on getting to the beach, for all of about
ten seconds before he was hit by one of them and had to turn and run across
the park toward Northies.

The crowd of people up the slope to the Wall had noticed what was happening
and all of a sudden it was on. The mob chased this kid into Northies,
straight through the traffic which was brought to a sudden standstill with
the now thousands of people surrounding the entry to Northies. Imagine a
group of thousands of people, and I really do mean thousands of people, all
chasing one kid into a pub and then standing outside screaming the most
hateful and violent trash talk, throwing bottles, jumping on cars containing
children that were stuck in the crowd.

The kid they were after was about 17 and would weigh in at a huge 60kg. I
could not believe my eyes that a lynching like this could happen anywhere,
let alone Cronulla beach.

This was a group of people that were thinking and moving as one, a true
"mob." Reason disappeared and the violently racist slurs and the bizarre
form of patriotism got worse. *Waltzing Matilda* was being screamed like a
war cry into the faces of police and Northies security guards. The crowd was
still on the street, stretching across the the Wall, but would move up the
Kingsway or down Eleoura Rd a bit if they thought there was a Leb to get.

We saw a group of three "wogs," two girls and a guy, all early twenties,
walking along the lower walkway of the Wall. The fact they'd managed to get
that far surprised me, but they didn't catch the attention of the mob until
they got very near the end of the Wall, about 20 metres from where the path
met the crowd. The abuse started, and then the crowd started to move toward
them. Thankfully there were a group of police close by who were able to get
them out safely, but it didn't stop the crowd following them out, screaming
in an absolute frenzy.

This was a crowd where almost every member was involved – there were hardly
any onlookers like my mates and myself, everyone was into it. I watched the
ABC news tonight and the reporter was asked whether locals were approving of
what had happened – he said the ones that were there were, though local
talkback callers through the day were appalled, he said.

It wasn't too long before a rumour started spreading that a train full of
Lebs was on its way to Cronulla (it was like an insane game of Chinese
Whispers, there were stories going through the crowd that Tom Ugly's and
Captain Cook Bridge had been closed, that the Bra Boys had arrived and that
the kiosk at North Cronulla was under siege because it was owned by Wogs),
so everyone was off to the station, via Cronulla Mall.

I can only imagine what it would have been like as a bystander in the Mall
with these idiots running through. By the time we got there, teenagers were
on the ground with pepper spray in their eyes, there were Nazis up trees
unfurling flags, more bottles being smashed and not a train full of Lebs to
be seen. Riot cops ended up pushing them all back until they were forced to
return to North Cronulla.

The irony of the situation didn't seem to be sinking into anyone's head
either. This all started last weekend when two lifeguards were bashed by a
Lebanese group of guys who apparently are aggressive, rude and disrespect
our women. Talkback radio has been filled all week with locals calling in
and saying so. I agreed with a lot of it, I'd seen these guys before and I'd
been intimidated by them. But what I saw today was far scarier than the Leb
guys could ever be. Behaviour far more more aggressive than any ethnic I've
ever seen. Rudeness?

Apparently Nando's had to be closed by police because two ethnic guys were
eating their lunch at a table inside when part of the mob arrived to scream
at them for doing so. Over the road at Macca's there were drunk guys on the
corner screaming the foulest of language down the mall. These are guys and
girls preventing ambulances from leaving.

This is a group of people happy to smash glass bottles in their own beach
sand! I saw a group of guys trying to get their footy out of one of the
Norfolk Pines by throwing beer bottles at it. As for "respecting our
women"... where's the respect in surrounding a teenage girl (Anglo and
alone) and harassing her from one end of the Wall to the other?

And I just got this off the *Herald's* coverage: "He could not comment on a
report that a girl of Middle Eastern appearance had been pushed over and was
kicked repeatedly as she lay on the ground." What the hell?!? The behaviour
today by the locals involved and all those with them was far worse than any
previous incident at Cronulla caused by a so-called ethnic outsider visiting
the area.

There were clearly a lot of non-locals involved. I think that once the text
message story got into the media it became a city-wide talking point and
made the numbers present today worse, attracting people who were either just
racist or just wanted a brawl. The sight of surfers and Romper-Stomper-like
neo-Nazis running together towards the next hopeful brawl is not one I'll
quickly forget.

But many locals were involved, and for the most part loving every minute of
it. There were plenty of units and apartments decked out in Aussie flags
with parties overflowing into the streets, proud to be a part of what was
just a disgusting day. How so many people could be getting pleasure from
this was just impossible to comprehend. It was part machismo bullsh*t and
part mob-mentality but it was mainly just ugly racism. It no longer had
anything at all to do with two lifeguards getting beaten up last weekend, it
was all just hatred towards a group of people who weren't even there.

The sight of the Australian flag being over-used like it was today was
embarrassing. Watching that crowd of thousands chase a single 17-year-old
was sickening. And to watch watch so many people think that what they were
doing was a good idea was just staggering.

It was the most shameful thing I've ever seen, no matter what happens next.

This from prominent Australian Sceptic, Fred Thornett

Let us not dodge the reality. Most British descended Australians do not like
"wogs", "spics", "slopes", "dagoes", "lebs", "powerpoints" and so on. And as
any Aborigine if he has ever experienced racism. What answer do you think you
will get? I believe that Australia is a racist country. Just like most others.

I do, however, agree with the rioters that multiculturalism is a failed concept.
It sounded lovely when proposed by the late Frank Galbally in his report to the
Federal Government. All the slightly leftish public servants felt that it was
not only a good thing, but that the "ethnics" would be grateful for the small
mercies we were about to bestow upon them. I know, I was on the implementation

My opinion which may not be widely shared by folk on this list is that we should
abandon the illusion of "multiculturalism". We should return to the policy of
our parents days. Immigrants were "New Australians". They were expected to
assimilate, not re-create the culture of their former homeland in Australia. In
the assimilation process they changed Australia forever, but we took only the
good things and absorbed them as we also changed. This process included obvious
things like altering forever the bland and boring "cuisine" that originated from
Britain and Ireland by including Italian, Greek, German, Polish, etc food into
our daily tucker. It also included less obvious things like gradually getting
soccer from being just kids, knock about game after school until we have now
accepted soccer as being a real sport fit for adult men to play. Who knows, in
fifty years we might become as good at it as we are at cricket. :-)

We should not continue to erect ethnic barriers between new immigrants and the
old Australian culture by pretending that multi-culturalism will be good for the
immigrants. I believe that multi-culturalism is very divisive and damaging to
our country. We should encourage assimilation. We will change a little and the
new immigrants will change a lot. This change will happen slowly and calmly
and Australia will be the better for it, just as we are the better for the
assimilation of a million or so post WW2 immigrants. Why we even managed to
assimilate lots of Poms. :-)

And as to the way in which ethnic differences can be exacerbated by religion:
forget Islam. Just think of the fights between the Catholics and the Protestants
which divided Australia for many decades up until say the 1950s...

I will not go on. I will wait to see if anyone else sees yesterday through the
same kind of spectacles as I do.
We skeptics tend to be drawn from the educated, middle-class, elite. Folks like
us rarely live in the outer suburbs - unless is a nice five acre block kind of
outer suburb. We also tend not to live in the nasty inner suburbs - unless the
area is being gentrified. We mostly live apart from most of the ordinary
working folk of Australia. The people who were involved in yesterday's
disgraceful riotous assembly will mostly live a long, long way from Sydney
harbour. Few of them will have degrees or even aspirations in that direction.
Few of them will think that Australia has been improved by the changing mix of
its immigrants since the 1970s. I think that one of the reasons why the ALP has
been losing support amongst its traditional working class base is because the
workers of Australia tend to be politically conservative. So, when faced by the
leftish leaning ALP of modern times, they have been voting for Mr Howard and his
mates because they are seen as being more conservative and preserving of the
traditional ways of Australia.

Still, I will be very interested to see if the recently enacted anti-terrorist
laws can be bent to meet what may well be a real threat to Australia. Virtually
everyone in the country knows that the anti-terrorist laws were intended to
target mostly Muslims. Yet the first real threat to public order in Australia
this century is coming from the racist mainstream, not the minority of Muslim

More, with a timeline, and 360 degree coverage at Tim Blair's.

He has the right idea :
Round ‘em up—all of them, from both sides—charge ‘em, convict ‘em, jail ‘em.
Well, yes. That's the Australian Way.


Bruce said...

I lived in Sydneys Marrickville for 10 years. Everyone there is terrorised by gangs calling themselves 'Lebanese', the same 'youths' who cause trouble in Cronulla.
I mean Indian and Greek shopkeepers have to pay extortion money and hand out free favours to them, everyone is in fear of the 'Lebanese' gangs. They perhaps target Indians because they are perceived as less likely to tell police, as more isolated and vulnerable.
My wife is Indian, and she came to fear walking on the streets in Marrickville because of the threats of local ethnic 'youths'. We left Marrickville and are now happily settled in an Anglo-Celtic majority area outside Sydney. Since arriving in Australia in 1981, my wife has never ever been racially villified by Anglo-Aussies, but she has been the victim of racism by Mediterraneans.

If you think this is all caused by some underlying Aussie racism you are seriously off track.

KateOnTheGo said...

I too was at Cronulla on Sunday and was appalled at what I saw. It wasnt about Cronulla. It was about a bunch of idiots coming in from all over Sydney to look for a fight.

See my blog for my own pictures taken on the day.

DrDel said...

I am keeping a list of blogs that are reporting and posting pictures about the Australian riots. Some of these first hand accounts of racially motivated beatings are unreal.

Send me blog links and I will post them.

Rob said...

Great post, Zoe - I think it's the best I've read anywhere on the blogosphere on this appalling episode.