Well respected anti-racism activist, supporter of First Nations rights and prominent trade unionist, Padraic (Paddy) Gibson, had three neo-Nazi types, with shaven heads and shirts emblazoned with the Eureka flag, turn up on his front doorstep on the night of Saturday December 4.
The unexpected and uninvited visitors banged on his front door, calling out that they wanted to speak to him.
The three men soon commenced bashing on the door of his Sydney home, ripping at security screens and even broke a window.
Gibson explained that he has been the subject of death threats in the past, and welcomed the support that his multicultural neighbourhood has shown since the incident.
As a member of socialist group Solidarity, Padraic is a key figure on the local social justice movement.
He’s also a researcher at the UTS Jumbunna Institute, where he works under esteemed Professor Larissa Behrendt. And his work at the uni directly deals with Aboriginal deaths in custody.
NSW police are currently investigating the matter.
It’s been lost on no one that this incident has occurred at a time when far-right groups have been emboldened, owing to their prominent mobilising as part of the ‘Freedom’ movement.
Of course, not all participants in the recent anti-lockdown and vaccine mandate rallies have been people who align themselves with right wing politics.
Sydney Criminal Lawyers spoke to Paddy Gibson:
You’ve said that you received death threats last year around the time of the Black Lives Matter rallies. Why do you think you’ve been targeted now?
‘I’ve got no particular indication as to why, except that I am a prominent anti-racist activist, and in the sights of these people. As I said, I’ve received quite a lot of threats previously, including threats to the house.
‘I would say I am known to the far-right, and they’ve probably got wind in their sails, as they’ve been welcomed with open arms at these ‘Freedom’ rallies and demonstrations against lockdowns and vaccine mandates. There’s been a prominent far-right presence within that movement.
‘I’ve had more experienced trade unionists and anti-racist activists contact me, telling me that these kinds of tactics were a lot more common in the late 80s.
‘There was a group, National Action, who used to do home visits. But people haven’t heard about this particular tactic for quite some time’.
There have been numerous visible displays of a far-right presence around the country. Would you say the attack on your house reflects a failure on the part of the political leadership in addressing this?
‘Absolutely. It certainly reflects a failure of political leadership on a range of fronts. Firstly, the racism that we see in such a concentrated and violent form with fascist and openly far-right groupings, is really something that’s encouraged by government policy.
‘We live in a country where there’s absolute systematic racism against Aboriginal people, people of colour and migrants. Aboriginal people are demonised and abused by police and government agencies every day of the week.
‘The response to the Black Lives Matter Movement was disgraceful. We had the police commissioner Mick Fuller demonising BLM protesters as being violent and responsible for the spread of the coronavirus last year. We had police attacking our attempts to organise these rallies.
‘We have ongoing police killings of Aboriginal people in police custody. That includes the shooting just a few weeks ago in Sydney. And it’s sanctioned, really, by the government refusal to prosecute killers.
‘The racist political system in Australia, and the racist policy settings, are what allow the far-right to get an audience for their ideas and confidence in them to grow.
‘That’s absolutely the case. Nationalism and xenophobia have been encouraged through the coronavirus pandemic. We have seen border closures. It is the go-to measure for governments when they try to appear as though they’re acting to contain the virus.
‘This is a kneejerk, xenophobic response that’s designed to show people they’re being tough and protective. But all of it encourages racism and nationalism. That’s what you get if you have racism at the top: people on the ground are empowered to carry that out in a violent way.
‘Then there’s the failure of the response to the coronavirus. The group that I am part of, Solidarity, has been very critical of lockdowns.
‘We’re very critical of vaccine mandates. The government’s coronavirus response has been very punitive, and it’s done an enormous amount of social damage.
‘We have a very polarised society, where a lot of people have lost work and their livelihoods, and that sort of environment is a breeding ground for the far-right to grow.
‘I’m incredibly pro-vaccine. I’ve been campaigning for the vaccination since it became available. And I’ve been heavily critical of the government’s vaccine rollout. The government is using vaccine mandates and scapegoating unvaccinated people as an excuse for the failure to properly invest in the health system and the social security system, and actually provide the security and care that we need to get through this pandemic. It’s all of those things: a rise in racism and the social and economic pain that has come out of the coronavirus crisis’.
‘This is a perfect storm.
First published by www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.