Sun Herald NewsPortrait of Stan Grant. 22nd April 2016Photo Dallas KilponenIndigenous journalist Stan Grant has slammed the defacement of a number of statues in Hyde Park overnight as appalling and disgraceful.
Between 2.25am and 3.15am on Saturday, the statues of former NSW governor Lachlan Macquarie and Captain Cook were spray-painted with the words “Change the date” while the statue of Captain Cook was also spray-painted with “No pride in genocide”.
Grant has been at the centre of debate surrounding the statues after penning an article criticising the notion that Captain Cook discovered Australia during the week.
“That’s appalling. It’s vandalism. If we can’t have this conversation in a country, democratically and respectfully, then it is just disgraceful.” Grant said.
On Saturday, NSW Police released images of a man they want to speak to. He is described as being of Caucasian appearance with a full face beard, wearing black sunglasses, khaki coloured jacket with a red shirt or scarf underneath, black track pants and brown boots.
“We as police support the right to protest, but defacing public property is unacceptable and is criminal. If anybody has information that can lead us to the people involved, we are certainly keen to hear from them,” acting Inspector Peter Northey said.
The statue of Queen Victoria was also targeted in the attack, with the words “F—ing bow down” spray-painted onto the pedestal.
A bag was also placed on the head of Macquarie and graffiti was sprayed on the Archibald Memorial Fountain, ANZAC Memorial, several park benches in Hyde Park and in Martin Place, police said.
Grant lamented the actions of a small minority, stating that they reflect poorly on those who want to have a civil, rational debate.
“People who do that, they actually reflect badly, not just on themselves, but if they actually care about Indigenous people and our cause, they are the ones who damage us. It’s ridiculous. You know, we should all be able to come to this properly and conduct ourselves legally and respectfully.”
“If you look at the history of the Aboriginal struggle in Australia, the history of it, has been peaceful. Indigenous people have conducted themselves with dignity, and peace and honour and have sought a way to be part of this country.
“And everything I have ever written has been about allowing us to feel as if we are part of this country too because we love it too and that’s been the hallmark of the Indigenous struggle. So anything that goes to vilify people or mocking people or threatening people or defacing things is not what we do in Australia.”
Former prime minister Tony Abbott also condemned the acts of vandalism, calling for the vandals to be charged and prosecuted.
“It’s what happens when politically correct activists decide to jump on a US bandwagon. What I want to hear is an unequivocal statement from [Opposition Leader] Bill Shorten that our history must be respected and strong action by NSW Police and Sydney City council to prosecute politically motivated vandals,” he said.
Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison also criticized the vandalism, in a statement on his Facebook page.
“Enough is enough. This is a bloody disgrace. This is an insult to all fair minded Australians who don’t look back on our history with ignorance or rose coloured glasses, but also rightly acknowledge our extraordinary achievements as a nation since Lt James Cook turned up almost 250 years ago.” He said.
“This kind of rubbish does not help keep one Indigenous child safe, in school or end up in a job.
“This divisive BS political grandstanding and vandalism does nothing but indulge the egos of the perpetrators. It is an exercise in pure vanity. Grow up, you’re not helping anyone or anything.”
Grant believes no positives will come from these acts, arguing that respectful debate is the most effective way to advance the cause of Indigenous Australians.
“No good comes from illegality. And no good comes from whipping people up into a state of frenzy. What good comes from is people coming out into society and being able to speak and have rational debate without mocking people or vilifying people or threatening people or going out and defacing things.
“It’s just not what we do. You know, it’s not what we do. And it’s not how people should conduct themselves. No good comes from that sort of nonsense.”
The acts have largely been condemned, with many taking to Twitter to denounce the vandalism. However, many were also quick to condemn Grant for his comments throughout the week, blaming him for the vandalism. Well Stan Grant will be a happy boy this morning. It’s just what he wanted. Great way to “Open a Conversation ” go Stan divide & conquer.??? Sonya (@Oz27Sf) August 26, 2017