Racially motivated text messages surface in other states
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Following the distribution of text messages which resulted in violence in Sydney, similar messages are appearing around Australia.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, Queensland Police and community leaders have called for calm following the circulation of text messages urging Gold Coast residents to "have a go and fight for the Gold Coast" on December 18. Queensland police said yesterday that text messages calling for people to start "cracking skulls."
Believed to also be aimed at Australians of middle-eastern origin, the messages are similar to those which sparked the violence in Sydney over the past two days.
Premier Beattie has dismissed the messages as being "mischievous" but conceded that the matter still needs to be taken seriously as "we don't want a few idiots trying to stir up trouble".
Queensland Police Superintendent Pointing has been reported to claim that the message may have started as a hoax, but the threat of violence increases as more people receive the message.
Superintendent Ponting also warned the authors of the message and those found forwarding it that they could face prosecution under the Anti-Discrimination Act. Those prosecuted may face a $5000 fine or 6 months imprisonment.
New South Wales
NSW Police Minister Carl Scully said police were taking seriously a new round of text messages encouraging unrest. "Some of them are crying wolf, they're false, they're hoaxes. But some of them, we think, have credibility and we need to be aware that there is a risk of incidents continuing," Mr Scully said in Melbourne's Age Newspaper.
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Victorian teenagers have been questioned in relation to the circulation of inciteful text messages and emails. NSW police said similar messages had also been reported in Victoria. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said officers had traced the author of a text message and had spoken to the youth involved. "The young people in some of these instances are 15 and 16 year-olds," she said.
"So we're talking about young people who are just impressionable, (looking for) something different to do, perhaps bored," She said Police did not have evidence of a strong movement behind the text messages from ethnic or community groups. Ms Nixon said some of the messages had specified locations while others were of a more general nature and expressed the desire that "we should all get together and beat everybody".