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Cronulla locals against riot commemoration

A man in a white T-shirt is protected by a police officer while another man (left) tries to punch him after the man in the white T-shirt had been set upon by a crowd at Cronulla beach during the December 2005 riot. AAP Image/Paul Miller

A man in a white T-shirt is protected by a police officer while another man (left) tries to punch him after the man in the white T-shirt had been set upon by a crowd at Cronulla beach during the December 2005 riot. AAP Image/Paul Miller

Sydney [AAP]

Far-right political activists are fighting authorities in the Supreme Court over planned commemorations for the 10-year anniversary of the Cronulla riots – but locals say they don’t want people coming to the area causing problems.

Many of those out and about in Cronulla on Sunday said there was tension ahead of the riots and retaliations that rocked Sydney’s southern beaches in December 2005.

But all agreed there were no more issues between those who participated in the frenzy, which will mark its anniversary on Friday.

In the aftermath of the violence, more than 100 people were charged.

Tensions increased after two volunteer surf lifesavers were assaulted when they responded to complaints that young men of Middle Eastern appearance were harassing women.

A week later thousands rallied in Cronulla and people of Middle Eastern appearance were violently assaulted – but colourful local character Darren ‘Dready Dazz’ Kuskey said the riots had nothing to do with race.

‘It was about stopping the gangs coming to pick on our locals,’ he told AAP.

Mr Kuskey doesn’t think there’s likely to be a repeat soon but doesn’t want the Party for Freedom going ahead with a memorial event, which the NSW police commissioner is trying to prevent through a court action.

‘There is no tension here,’ he said.

‘It’s all cool here now, we have no problems here in Cronulla.’

Fellow local Regan Hyde agreed that things had settled down.

‘It’s a lot more chilled out,’ he said.

‘Aussie girls couldn’t come down here and walk from their towel to the water without getting harassed.’

But the Party for Freedom’s plans could cause a bit of trouble, the bulky 33-year-old reckons.

His friend, who did not want to be named, said he’d rather the commemoration not be held at the notorious beach.

‘I’m happy for them to have their opinion and they should be able to protest if they want to but to be honest I don’t want it here,’ he said.

Workers at several businesses surrounding the train station, where many of those who came to the area for the riots arrived, were all against the proposed commemorations.

One worker, who didn’t want to be named, said it was about three years before things returned to normal following the riots.

Party for Freedom and the police will return to court for an 11th-hour hearing on Thursday.

Several Muslims approached by AAP around Cronulla beach declined to comment, saying they were wary of the way people were inaccurately portrayed by media.

Comment is being sought from Sutherland Shire Council.


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