Cronulla riot put to rest: Shire looks forward to Australia Day

Picture: John VeageUpdate Monday:
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Police and Sutherland Shire residents have been praised for their response to the activities of extremist groups on the tenth anniversary of the Cronulla riot.

Cronulla MP and Environment Minister Mark Speakman said residents made a strong statement by boycotting the so-called anti-Islam and anti-racism events on Saturday, which he described as “fizzers”.

Mr Speakman suggested the community’s stand would help lay to rest images of the 2005 violence.

‘‘Hopefully, now the community has voted with its feet and said, ‘We are beyond those events’, we can have closure, and people can recognise what a predominantly tolerant, decent and harmonious community Cronulla is,’’ he said.

Mayor Carmelo Pesce said, from the briefings he received in the lead-up to the anniversary, he was always certain police were prepared.

‘‘Everything I was told went to plan,’’ he said.

‘‘I thank the police and other emergency services, and council staff, as well as the community for their co-operation, which resulted in there being no major incidents.

‘‘We can now look forward to our celebration of Australia Day, which shows what the shire is really made of, with a great range of events at Illawong, Engadine and Cronulla.’’

See more in Wednesday’s Leader.

Do you think the situation was handled well?

Anti-fascist activists from the Antifa group confronted anti-Islam protesters in Don Lucas Reserve in Cronulla. Photo: James Brickwood.

Saturday3.30pm: The tenth anniversary of the Cronulla riot was markedby more violence, but on a much smaller scale than seen 10 years ago and local residents stayed away.

A group of about 150 anti-racist protesters verbally abused and jostled people theyconsidered to be anti-Islamic, and there were clashes when police intervened.

Two people were arrested.

However, the protesters on both sides were gone by 3pm and Cronullawas back to normal.

Police ensure protestors leave by train peacefully.

Cafés were packed, the mall was busy, surfersdefied a cool breezeand kites flew over Elouera Beach.

The barbecue held by the extreme right wing group Party for Freedomhad finished, and the anti-racist protesters had gone home by train.

Protestors arrive. Picture: John Veage

Residents heeded the pleas to stay away from Wanda, making the task ofpolice much easier.

Police remained vigilant, but it appeared there would be no further disruption.

Cronulla MP Mark Speakman said the so-called “anti-Islam” and“anti-racism” events were complete “fizzers”.

“They were organised by vocal outsiders and poorly attended'” he said.

“Locals stayed away from both events. I haven’t come across a singlelocal who said they attended, or were planning to attend, eitherevent.

Pro-Islamic protestors.

“Cronulla has moved on from 10 years ago. Sadly there’ll probablyalways be pockets of hatred and bigotry on the far right and the farleft. Cronulla, however, is predominantly a tolerant and cohesivecommunity, which I’m proud to represent.

“I thank the NSW Police, other State Government agencies andSutherland Shire Council for their comprehensive efforts over severalmonths to protect the local community and maintain public safety.

“We’re enormously fortunate to have such competent and dedicated police in NSW.”

2pm:

Flankedby police, the protesters marched along the Esplanade toCronulla, changing slogans such as, “Say it loud, day it clear,Muslims are welcome here”.

They made their way past the scene of the riot in 2005, past the rockpools and up through Cronulla Park, where children were playing.

Police and protestors.

Police were waiting for them at every point, and kept them in a tightcorridor as they progressed to the railway station, where they were marshalled on to a train.

There were a few heckles along the way, but there appeared no be nofurther incidents after initial skirmishes with police at Wanda.

Fortunately, the Party for Freedom was well away, having theirbarbecue at the northern end of Don Lucas.

At Wanda, some people regarded as anti-Islam protesters were set uponby the pro-Islamic group.

The anti-racist group included members of Antifa (anti-fascism), dressed in black with black face masks.

Some anti-Islam protesters were shoved and abused as “f— fascists”.

One middle-aged woman draped in an Australian flag caught in the crowd was surrounded by 20 to 30Antifamembers who shouted at her to “take that fascist flag off now”.

A man in the crowd yelled “burn that flag and burn that woman”.

Police arrested two pro-Islamic demonstrators.

1.30pm:

Pro-Islamic supporters clashed with police when they staged a rival rally to the group commemorating the Cronulla riot.

While only about 60 people attended the barbecue in Don Lucas Reserve that replaced the rally organised by the right-wing Party for Freedom,a group of about 150 pro-Islamic supportersgathered in the park above Wanda surf club.

Police formed a cordon around them, but they staged a rolling protest,heading along the Esplanade towards Cronulla.

11.30am:

By 11am senior police had formed the view the gathering at Don LucasReserve would be “a non event”.

Only a small group of supporters were present when Nick Folkes arrivedat Don Lucas Reserve dressed in a burqa, which he removed as soon ashe finished a media conference.

Security: Police on patrol on Saturday. Picture: John Veage

As he did when he woreIslamic clothing during a court appearanceearlier in the week, he denied he was mocking Muslims but was “justmaking a point about the way Australia is headed”.

Chief Inspector Mark McGrath gave Mr Folkes instructions on what hecould and couldn’t do as a result of the court orders.

Nick Folkes and supporters. Picture: John Veage.

11.15am:

Chief Inspector Matk McGrath questioned Sergio Redegalli, who arrived with a spit and a pig to roast.

Cronulla riot put to rest: Shire looks forward to Australia Day Chief inspector Mark McGrath with Nick Folkes, wearing a burqa.

Nick Folkes after the press conference.

Sergio Redegalli, who arrived with a spit and a pig to roast.

Party for Freedom barbecue.

Police at Crinulla station as protestors arrive.

Police patrolling Cronulla on Saturday morning..

Residents were out walking their dogs.

Residents walking their dogs.

Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce was an early starter and asked residents to stay Way later in the day.

Police patrolling Don Lucas Reserve.

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