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Photo Essay: Sydney’s Cronulla Beach One Year On

Photo Essay: Sydney’s Cronulla Beach One Year On


Images and text by Jehan Casinader

The first anniversary of last year’s violent and racially-motivated riots on Sydney’s Cronulla Beach has passed without a major hitch. New Zealand freelance journalist Jehan Casinader presents this photo essay from Sydney. Casinader is reporting from Australia courtesy of Flight Centre.


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The beach’s normal weekend programmes went ahead as usual, with no outward response to the anniversary of the riots. Under the surface, however, it was on the minds of the locals.


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Last year’s riots were caused by the snowball effect of a text message campaign to bring masses to the beaches where the action took place. This year, no successful campaign has surfaced.


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While many turned out on a brilliant Sydney weekend to catch some sun, surf and sand, there was a clear absence of ethnic faces. Many suggest that this contributed to the stability.


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The police presence at Cronulla was unprecedented, and the police were making little effort to hide. This was part of a campaign to create a sense of security and order for locals and visitors.


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By lunchtime, local news crews were converging on Cronulla for the all-important one-year-on story. This, combined with the presence of police, seemed to keep any tension at bay.


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Many local residents are still frustrated at what they perceive to be a media beat-up over the Cronulla debate. Most do, however, feel that life in their seaside town is getting back to normal.


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Santa Claus spontaneously appears and rallies the children present into a boisterous rendition of ‘Merry Christmas’. The kids, who seem all to willing to participate, play up for the cameras.


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The controversial Australia First Party brought its Cronulla candidate, John Moffat, to address any rally that formed, reported the Sydney Morning Herald. No such rally eventuated, and Moffat left.


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A mere handful of Australia First Party members spent a couple of hours on South Cronulla Beach handing out pamphlets which condemned ‘Asianisation’ and multiculturalism.


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Police weren’t discussing anything with media, saying they were under orders to keep quiet. Buggies like this one circled the beach, along with vans, riot squad vehicles and helicopters.


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The dog that became one of the most prominent focal points of the day, displaying two of a very small number of Australian flags present at Cronulla on the first anniversary.


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An Australian flag flies proudly near the surf club on Cronulla Beach. Most other flags present were on beach towels. A handful wore anti-ethnic t-shirts to the beach in quiet protest.


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Police eyes scoured the beach for hours for any sign of trouble. Most members of the public simply ignored the police presence and got on with enjoying the summer weather.


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The day’s only confrontation occurred in front of a small handful of media, between Australia First Party leader Jim Saleam and his critic, Mat Henderson-Hau, of the Fight Dem Back campaign.


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Cronulla’s business sector is struggling to recover after the effects of last year’s riots and the social and political effects the riots had on the town, especially through media eyes.


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Police on one of many routine ground patrols of South Cronulla Beach, as beachgoers look on.


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With police having an eye on the beach, an atmosphere of safety was maintained consistently.


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Alcohol was a major contributing factor to last year’s riots. Signs just up the road from Cronulla Beach indicate that ‘big brother’ is watching the actions of those who enter the area.


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Police patrolled the local train station and boarded the train back to the city on patrol.

ALL PHOTOS © JEHAN CASINADER


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