Street violence – Cronulla riots

The Cronulla riots is renowned for its racial and alcohol fuelled battle in December 2005. An out of control group of 5 thousand people gathered on Cronulla beach and surrounding streets to protest against a recent outbreak of violence against locals. The riots were triggered by the bashing of 2 volunteer lifesavers followed by ongoing tensions between locals and visitors between the beach. The investigation of why the riots erupted on the beach indicated  a strong sense of ‘surfie culture’ which was blown up by the media. Locals have stated that it was purely an act of defending their territory and national identity and the media assisted to intensify this.

The media played a very significant role throughout the Cronulla riots. On December 11 tensions flared between predominantly anglo-european ‘aussies’ and muslims ‘lebs’. There were varying  responses from locals – some expressed shame and fear while others were not surprised. Right-wing media groups had been accused of broadcasting political agendas. Alan Jones voiced on a local radio station a biased argument against “middle eastern bastards” bringing attention to the issue and stating that Cronulla beach has been “taken over by scum”. Jones openly advocated and encourages violent behaviour against middle-easterners implying that they were the cause of all problems. This public, upfront argument struck citizens with fear and rage. Newspapers also enhanced racial discrimination and violence, the Telegraph posting headlines such as “Fight for Cronulla: We want our beach back”. By saying ‘we’ this indicates a biased opinion and that they are siding with locals and subtly hoping to encourage the community to ‘fight’ for the beach. This implies that the media is okay with violent acts which may break out. The media uses this sense of community to connect with locals on a person level which is an evident point proving media were a partial cause of the riots, presenting it as something that was longing to happen.

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