A 21-year old man has been arrested after allegedly killed a 21-year old woman and injuring another 41-year old woman in Clarence Street, Sydney. The attack halted the entire city and caused significant transport delays as emergency response teams tried to piece together the puzzle and ensure the safety of civilians. This is a frightening attack, no sense of warning and occurring within a public place during the daytime.
There is possible allegiance to Islamic extremist ideology, with connections to the recent acts in the US and New Zealand currently being investigated. The offender is also known to have battled with a long history of mental illness.
Our prayers and thoughts are with the victims and their families. So where does this leave Australia now? These are some essential points to consider:
1. The response of the community to this attack has been incredibly encouraging. In November 2018, in Melbourne, a man carrying a knife carried out a similar attack, threatening civilians with a clear association with terrorism. The response of the community was to instead of trying to control the attacker or run away, they pulled out their phones and filmed the event. Contrastingly, members of the public today chased the man through Clarence street, eventually containing him through the use of milk crates and chairs. These individuals demonstrated extreme courage to run into the face of possible injury or death to protect the lives of others and should be publicly acknowledged for their bravery.
2. These attacks will continue until we break the deadly cycle of racial violence, not only in Australia but also in the world. How do we do this? Firstly, we need accurate reporting. If this man has Islamic extremist ideologies, we need to call him what he is, a terrorist. We also need to understand that this man was mentally ill and that his religion or faith is utterly irrelevant to the attack. No one in a stable frame of mind decides to injury or kill others with a knife in public.
3. The comment must be raised about the nature of the attack in comparison to the recent American mass shootings. As mentioned in my previous article, (https://thelevinelowdown.com/2019/08/12/america-and-guns/), I have no doubt that Australia’s gun control policies meant that more lives were saved in this attack. If the man was armed with an assault rifle, not only would more people have been killed, but the containing of the man by the general public would have been almost impossible. Yes, people still died, and a deadly weapon (knife) was still utilised, but it must be noted that the outcome could have been entirely different had the attacker had access to a gun. Again, all lives are equally valuable, and no matter how many people pass away, it is unacceptable, and we must continue to strive to ensure the safety of all people.
As the story continues to unfold and new details emerge, we must stay calm and not become fearful, as this is what the attacker wants us to do. We must look after and support the victims and their families, and we must acknowledge and encourage the courage of the civilians who risked their lives to save others.