International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) on callous and brutal police

Australia: Police gun down 15-year-old boy
Katrina Morrison
wsws.org
December 17, 2008

Fifteen-year-old Tyler Cassidy was shot dead by police officers in Melbourne, Victoria last Thursday night in a callous and brutal act. Four officers surrounded the agitated youth at a skate park in the suburb of Northcote and killed him in a hail of at least six bullets. The shooting has sparked public outrage and recalled the filthy record of Victorian police, who have become notorious for opening fire on anyone perceived as a threat, including the young and mentally ill…

Tyler’s killing follows a similar incident in Greece, where the death of a 15-year-old boy at the hands of the police has sparked ongoing street clashes, demonstrations, and anti-government strikes. There is no doubt that this response has contributed to the extremely nervous reaction, in political and media circles, to Tyler’s tragic death. A central feature of the media coverage has been an outrageous attempt to limit public sympathy for the dead youth and his family by portraying him as a neo-fascist. A series of lurid stories has emerged detailing the activities of the “Southern Cross Soldiers”—a hitherto unknown racist and nationalist group of youth with whom Tyler reportedly had some contact.

Tyler’s mother denied he was a member of the group. “Accusations that he was involved in a nationalistic group are far-fetched,” she said. “He was 15-years-old. He attended a multi-cultural school. Many of Tyler’s friends came to the house in tears. They are from all different nationalities and they are also grieving.” …

Leaving aside the uses to which the corporate and state media have put this information, in reality, the allegation that Tyler was involved in “a nationalistic group” is not far-fetched, but correct. Tyler was indeed a member of the ‘Southern Cross Soldiers’, and proudly so, as a moment’s research would confirm. (His myspace page is titled TYLERS [S.C.S] P.T.B.A.] And by any standard definition, SCS are indeed ‘nationalistic’. Further, while Katrina may not have known of the existence of the SCS, others did; it even featured in an article in the Herald Sun in November. I first became aware of the boys in late 2007/early 2008, at which time I wrote to a friend:

Kids.

Nationalism and racism are often conjoined, so I don’t think it’s any surprise that a group such as this has emerged really. One of the only significant distinctions between this and previous incarnations of nationalist sentiment is the use of the Southern Cross as an emblem (as opposed to the Australian flag) and the fact that it’s Internet-based. I think the actual opinions of those involved, which aren’t especially well-articulated or based on a great deal of reflection, would be divided between those who have a passionate hatred of non-whites and those who don’t, with many positions in-between. In other words, the group membership is likely similar to that of the general public. Further, groups like this offer young white Australians a sense of identity and personal coherence, which is absent elsewhere. It’s also a product of a more general political dynamic which on its own terms makes sense, that is: I’m an Australian; being an Australian is Good; Good things should be celebrated; I’m celebrating being an Australian. Conversely, if being an Australian is Good, then not being an Australian — and living IN Australia — is Bad, or at least highly suspect. Therefore, living in Australia and proclaiming oneself to be something other than Australian — say, being ‘Lebanese’ — is Bad (or at least highly suspect), and to be denigrated. It’s also conceived of as being threatening, a challenge, and in the case of young people with a weak or still budding sense of identity, doubly so. The other important factor, I think, is sexual politics, and the challenge to masculinity which declarations of (cultural/ethnic/racial) difference tends to provoke in young males.

Blah blah blah.

A further moment’s investigation would also confirm that SCS take their inspiration, in part, from the December 11, 2005 Cronulla riot: “On that day, approximately 5,000 people, mostly young, gathered on Cronulla beach, many draped in the Australian flag. They launched a nationalistic, alcohol- and drug-fuelled pogrom against anyone of Middle Eastern appearance, injuring more than 20 people, two of whom were stabbed.”

Or so Fergus Michaels claimed; perhaps Katrina believes that they’re not racists, just patriotists.

Beyond this, Morrison’s point stands: if the authorities were fearful of a public backlash, one means of lessening its strength would be through portraying Tyler in an unsympathetic light. This tactic has very real limitations, however, as the most obvious feature of his tragic death is the age at which it occurred, and the manner of his killing.

Finally, Jill Singer. Online MySpace ‘mates’ let Tyler Cassidy down, Herald Sun, December 18, 2008 (“HE wrote: “I love Austrlia more than enythink.” It was Tyler Cassidy’s entry on Myspace, months before being killed by police in Northcote…”).

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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4 Responses to International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) on callous and brutal police

  1. Anon says:

    This is a very odd take on the WSWS article. Your complaint seems to be that they have chosen not to condemn as a fascist a 15 year old boy who has just been murdered by four cops…

    The article did not, as you claim, suggest Tyler’s connections with the SCS was “far-fetched”. It acknowledged that the youth had some contact with this racist group. Your assertion that he “was indeed a member” is questionable. What does it mean, after all, for a boy to be a member of such an organisation? The SCS is hardly a political party with anything resembling formal membership. And as your own letter suggests (” the actual opinions of those involved, which aren’t especially well-articulated or based on a great deal of reflection, would be divided between those who have a passionate hatred of non-whites and those who don’t, with many positions in-between”), many of the confused young people around the SCS cannot be simply condemned as card-carrying neo-fascists. Your claim that “perhaps Katrina believes that they’re not racists, just patriotists” is a serious allegation and is in fact entirely baseless. The article directly stated that the SCS is a “racist and nationalist group”.

    You acknowledge the validity of the WSWS’s central point (“if the authorities were fearful of a public backlash, one means of lessening its strength would be through portraying Tyler in an unsympathetic light”). It seems to me that a corollary of this position is the rejection of the media’s identification of Tyler as neo-Nazi–something promoted by the Murdoch press here (http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,24791456-5001021,00.html) and also picked up internationally (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article5328921.ece).

  2. @ndy says:

    Anon,

    My complaint is not what you suggest — that WSWS / Katrina Morrison “have chosen not to condemn as a fascist a 15 year old boy who has just been murdered by four cops” — and is not really a complaint as such; more of a commentary. I often read the WSWS because I believe it provides some good coverage of local and international events, and is one of the few English-language publications that does so on a regular basis, from an avowedly ‘revolutionary’ perspective. So: I was curious to examine what might be written about Tyler’s murder, and of course the manner in which the response to his killing might be compared to that of Andreas’.

    Regarding the relationship between Tyler and SCS:

    Katrina places this reportage in the context of the nervousness of the authorities, especially in light of the uprisings in Greece. In other words, the authorities feared a similar backlash occurring here. Of this “there is no doubt”. According to Katrina, part of the strategy employed by political and media circles in response — in fact, a central strategy — has been the attempt to portray him as some kinda fascist. Katrina then notes that, since Tyler’s murder:

    1) “lurid stories” have circulated regarding SCS;
    2) SCS was hitherto “unknown”;
    3) SCS are a “racist and nationalist group of youth with whom Tyler reportedly had some contact”;
    4) “Tyler’s mother denied he was a member of the group”.

    In other words, where the corporate/state media has highlighted this association, Katrina downplays it.

    “Your assertion that he “was indeed a member” is questionable. What does it mean, after all, for a boy to be a member of such an organisation? The SCS is hardly a political party with anything resembling formal membership.”

    Tyler was a member of SCS in the same manner as any other member. SCS is not a political party with a formal membership, but an online network centred on Myspace. He formed part of this network, considered himself a member, and was recognised by other members as being so. In his online postings, he expressed his excitement at attending a party that was organised to coincide with the third anniversary of the Cronulla riot, and also expressed how much he was looking forward to celebrating Australia Day next year with his fellow SCS.

    More later…

  3. @ndy says:

    “…many of the confused young people around the SCS cannot be simply condemned as card-carrying neo-fascists. Your claim that “perhaps Katrina believes that they’re not racists, just patriotists” is a serious allegation and is in fact entirely baseless. The article directly stated that the SCS is a “racist and nationalist group”.

    There is certainly a degree of ‘confusion’ among SCS, both ideological and organisational. I see it as being principally concerned with organising nationalistic and xenophobic sentiments among that segment of White youth which feels resentful towards what it regards as being the imposition of cultural, ethnic and racial(ised) others, and which is also engaged in social networking via such platforms as Myspace. The ‘neo-Nazi’ tag is largely the result of an article (Victorian police vow crackdown to stop ‘another Cronulla’, Sunday Herald Sun, Liam Houlihan, November 23, 2008) which quotes Melbourne SCS co-leader Adds who ‘said members included criminals and self-described neo-Nazi skinheads, and some had relatives in the Hell’s Angels. “All these people that are coming over to our country that aren’t Aussies are trying to take it over,” Adds said. “We’re just trying to put the word out that we don’t like it”.’

    The ‘skinhead’ (that is, bonehead) claim was reinforced, in Tyler’s case, by his appearance, and by his posting a photograph of a skinhead on his Myspace page, subtitled ‘its not me but my twin’. Further, the anonymous account attributed to a friend (Shot teen Tyler Cassidy a member of ‘white pride’ group, Mark Dunn, Herald Sun, December 12). After noting that Tyler joined SCS four months ago, it states:

    One of those who knew him, and attests to his violent temper, told the Herald Sun that unless the police shot Tyler, he would have made good on his threat to kill the officer.

    Tyler fell in with the wrong crowd and had befriended a group of skinheads, the former friend said.

    He said Tyler was known for his sporadic violence, but other than an assault charge had no significant criminal history.

    “Minor things such as randomly attacking people he did not like the look of or acting tough and starting fights with anyone he could,” the former associate said.

    “He was always angry and after trying to help him out for longer than anyone else I know more than anyone I know he was beyond help.

    “His poor mother would always try to help him and do her best as a parent and he would only ever respond with anger and hatred towards her.

    “Since he joined the SCS and started hanging out some mates he called “skinhead mates” he started drinking excessively and getting much more violent.

    At any rate, I have never described Tyler as a ‘neo-Nazi’, nor the SCS. My comment “perhaps Katrina believes that they’re not racists, just patriotists” was intended to be tongue-in-cheek (it is also a quote from the lyrics of the song — the SCS theme song — posted in the video immediately beneath this comment).

    On Greece, Ulrich Rippert, The political issues posed by the mass protests in Greece, WSWS, December 19, 2008:

    …Also playing a retrograde role in the struggles in Greece are anarchist elements, who hold workers responsible for the right-wing politics of PASOK, the KKE and the trade unions, serving to isolate the youth from the working class as a whole.

    The only genuinely progressive orientation for the current movement in Greece is a deliberate turn towards the working class in Greece and throughout Europe. This requires an international socialist program, which bases itself on the political experiences drawn from the major struggles of the international working class and on the lessons of the defeats and tragedies experienced over past decades.

    The World Socialist Web Site and the European sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International, the Partie für Soziale Gleichheit in Germany and the Socialist Equality Party in Great Britain, call for spreading the mass protests and struggles that have erupted in Greece throughout Europe.

    This movement must be built upon a perspective for uniting European workers in a common struggle to put an end to the capitalist profit system and socialize the productive forces to meet human needs. Against the capitalists’ European Union, workers must fight for the creation of the United Socialist States of Europe.

    Within Greece itself, the decisive task is the building of a revolutionary socialist party of the working class, as a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

    A few points:

    The claims about the relationship of ‘anarchist elements’, on the one hand, and ‘workers’, on the other, are highly questionable;
    The ‘call for spreading the mass protests and struggles’ is redundant;
    The ‘decisive task’ being the creation of a section of the ICFI in Greece is amusing, the ‘International’ being confined to Australia, Canada, Germany, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and the United States.

  4. Felix says:

    As a brown skinned, native born Australian, my initial sentiment is that the little arsehole got what he deserved BUT once I settle down, try to ignore the scars I bear from racist attacks over the years I realise that the Fascist threat actually lies within government authorities such as the Victorian Police Force.
    Their kind doesn’t discriminate, they’ll murder anyone and victims such as this poor misguided fool deserve our sympathy. After all, he probably would have grown up and abandoned his delusions.

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