Before I came to Australia I had specific and definite ideas of what I thought Australian society, culture and the mind set of the people were. Cronulla proved them wrong.
I didn't view Australia as a utopia, I'm not foolish enough to believe that any such place exists or ever will, but I didn't expect to find racial tension and outbreaks of violence on the scale of the Oldham riots that shook Britain a few years ago.
Yesterday a mob of young white Australian men descended as an angry and violent mob on the Sydney suburb of Cronulla Beach. The suburb apparently has a problem with Lebanese and Middle Eastern youths coming to the beach from other poorer suburbs (Cronulla is one of the easiest beaches to reach by train) and intimidating locals. However, no one has so far said what form this intimidation has been taking. Are they physically threatening people? Are they being openly hostile to locals or are they simply being intimidating in the way that large groups of young people getting carried away with themselves can be? I have no idea, but this intimidation seems to be the smoldering ember that caught light yesterday.
The spark that ignited the flame occurred the previous weekend when 2 volunteer lifeguards were beaten up on Cronulla beach by some young men of Middle Eastern & Mediterranean appearance (commonly known as 'Lebs' & 'Wogs'). No one has reported on the reasons why the life guards were attacked. For all I know it could have been a personal thing or possibly drug realted and not a racist incident as everyone assumes. But that is just speculation on my part because Australian journalists seem to have no concept of the word investigate.
The lifeguard attack was covered extensively in the media. Footage of angry residents confronting the state Premier and local Police Chief over their lack of response to the intimidation problem was shown in every news bulletin for days. The media also repeatedly reported that text messages were circulating urging people to turn up at Cronulla the next weekend to 'support' the lifeguards. Anyone who didn't receive the txt message surely found out about the 'rally' through the Tv.
Approximately 5,000 people descended on the beach on Sunday and started drinking heavily before the violence erupted - coincidently the violence subdued and the crown began to diverse voluntarily as soon as the 2 local bottle shops closed at 5pm.
The violence began with unprovoked attacks on any poor sod who looked like a 'leb' or a 'wog'. There was a graphic an disturbing clip on the news of a group of psychotic looking women battering a black haired lady who lay cowering on the floor unable to get away from the ferocious attack. At one point the police had to guard a pub to protect a man who had been chased inside by a frenzied mob and several men had to be taken into protective custody, simply because they had black hair and olive skin.
The police had no qualms at all about using their battons to try and restore order and they savagely beat back the baying mob. There were chants of "Ausssie, Aussie, Aussie", "No Lebs" and a hate filled rendition of the Australian National Anthem. Hooliganism isn't just confined to European Soccer.
It was later that night after the mob at Cronulla dispersed that the 'Lebs & Wogs' decided to retaliate with an attack on neighboring Maroubra. Gangs of young men of 'Middle Eastern and Mediterranean appearance' drove around the streets of the suburb with baseball bats vandalizing cars and smashing windows. In the suburb of Brighton Le Sands Police were pelted with bottles and 12 people were arrested at police road blocks.
The night of violence ended with 23 people hurt - including police and ambulance officers and another 16 people were taken into custody over night. Police say they are looking for a group of men of Middle Eastern appearance who stabbed a 23 year old man in Woolooware.
The mostmemorable moment for me was an interview with a middle aged local man. He was wearing a White T-Shirt on which had been written in black pen 'Ashamed to be Australian'. He said " I am a 7th generation Australian. I have never been ashamed to be Australian until today."
The other view