Last Thursday morning, I headed out on foot to visit a friend who lives close by. I was walking just behind our house when I heard a big group of people shouting and laughing in the distance and began to wonder what was going on. There’s a certain sound that an angry mob of people make – I wonder if it’s the same the world over? I didn’t really witness many angry mobs in Australia. I wasn’t too worried by it as I was headed in the opposite direction so I continued on my way.
My suspicions were heightened when I watched the woman walking with a child in front of me turn down the street in the direction of the noise and then suddenly stop. She too clearly recognised the angry mob sound and decided to turn back and go a different way. There’s a police station not far from our house (perhaps 500m) so I just figured there was something strange going on there and that it would blow over.
I arrived at my friend’s house shortly after and sat down to greet everybody. I told my friend’s daughter how I had heard something strange going on near the police station – she said they’d probably caught some thieves and everyone was watching on. But then the shooting started. It sounded like fireworks – maybe 30 or 40 shots in the space of a few minutes. I wasn’t in any danger but it was a little bit nerve wracking to hear the chaos so close to home.
After the shooting seemed to have stopped, I walked back home, unaware of the drama that was continuing less than a kilometre away. Just as I arrived inside the gate there were more shots and they continued sporadically throughout the morning. From just outside of our front gate we could watch the tyres burning in the street (400m away) and the angry protestors throwing rocks. As people streamed past away from the danger zone, the stories started rolling in.
There were reports of the police shooting an innocent man over a bicycle license worth less than a dollar, of crowds streaming to the man’s defence in protest of the seemingly senseless attack, then of three innocent bystanders shot dead in the riots, including a young child returning from school, bodies lying on the rubbish piles, a policeman who had had both arms skinned to his shoulders, flags burning, an angry mob of people from the village coming to launch a massive retaliatory attack on the police: the gossip was flying and tension was running high.
You can read the report about what actually happened here…
It was utter chaos. Cars were zooming past our gate and then slamming on the brakes when they realised that their path was blocked path – no other police came to block off the road. Later on in the day the “Rapid Response” team arrived and was patrolling the street fully armed – too little too late?
Everything has settled back down again now and life is back to normal – whatever that means here?