Police charge Queenslanders over racially motivated attacks
POLICE Commissioner Katarina Carroll has today called out 'abhorrent behaviour' as police charge several Queenslanders over racially motivated attacks in the wake of COVID-19.
According to the Commissioner, police have charged 16 people over 22 racially motivated offences that significantly target the Australian-Chinese community.
The charges, which include wilful damage, public nuisance, robberies, and physical assault, have been made since March 1.
"They (attacks against the Chinese community) manifest themselves in verbal abuse, in writing abusive signs into forms of wilful damage and people purposely assaulting others. They're being racially abusive," Commissioner Carroll said.
"This is abhorrent behaviour. We all need to respect each other. We are all Queenslanders and we are all Australians, and we're all in this together at this challenging time."
The call for unity comes only weeks after Queensland's Chinese community donated 6000 masks and 1500 coveralls for frontline health workers.
The community also continues to cook food for frontline workers.
Spokesman for the Queensland Chinese United Council, Michael Choi, said referring to COVID-19 as a 'Chinese virus' only highlighted racist behaviour in the community.
"Naming a virus after a nation or a race is unhelpful and unwise," he said.
"It gives rise to stigmatisations and encourages some people who have bias and prejudice to exercise their prejudices.
"COVID-19 does not respect borders. It does not discriminate because of the colour of your skin, your creed, your religion or your beliefs. It is a virus. An enemy for all of us. And we have to stay together and work together to combat this enemy of ours."
Brisbane's southern suburbs, including Calamvale, Sunnybank Hills and Eight Mile Plains have been the main targets for racially motivated attacks after a fake press release circulated online several months ago.
The release, which claimed to have been sent from Queensland Health, advised people to stay away from visiting communities with a large Chinese population or areas that had a 'ratio of 1 to 3 non-Chinese Australians.'
State Member Duncan Pegg said the release was the start of the racial abuse to his electorate, which homes the largest Chinese community in the state.
"Unfortunately incidents have spiralled (following the fake press release)," he said.
"This racist nonsense has to stop. These attacks on the Chinese community who have made a tremendous contribution to our local community need to stop."
State Police Minister Mark Ryan said it was imperative everyone in the community understood the unprecedented challenge being faced needed a team effort.
"Quite simply we are all in this together," he said.
"It's only by coming together and working as a united community that we can effectively combat the threat posed by COVID-19.
"These are difficult times, but they are difficult for everyone.
"I am extremely disappointed to hear of reports of offensive behaviour being directed at some specific communities.
"That is not the Australian way."
Ms Carroll said offenders caught being racist would be met with action from police.
"Significant penalties apply and the community can rest assured police will fully investigate matters brought to their attention," she said.
Mr Hinchliffe said it was up to every Queenslander to call out racism in all its forms.
"Whether it's on the street or on the internet, there is no place for racism in Queensland," he said.
"More than 23,500 Queenslanders have joined the Care Army and those volunteers come from across the religious and racial spectrum, from Sunnybank and Mt Isa, to Mackay and Cairns.
"Many thousands more are teaching our children, caring for our aged and cleaning our hospitals and every Queenslander deserves to be assured that offensive behaviour will not be tolerated."
If you experience offensive behaviour please report it to police via Policelink on 131 444, Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.