Last weekend monuments across the CBD of Sydney were vandalised with graffiti, including phrases like ‘change the date’ and ‘no pride in genocide’. The attacks in Hyde Park happened between 2am and 3 am on Saturday 26. The affected monuments include the statue of Capitan James Cook and one of Lachlan Macquarie. The attacks seemed to spread quickly as the City of Sydney reported other places attacked in Martin Place and Macquarie Street, including the Archibald Memorial Fountain and ANZAC Memorial.
The attacks happened just after Stan Grant, an indigenous broadcaster, said that the inscription on the Cook statue should be changed since he discovered the territory in 1770. Grant has been part of the debate, although he expressed the transgression was “appalling and disgraceful”.
NSW police identified a suspect who they want to speak to, as he could be the offender responsible for the vandalism acts. The released images show a man described as Caucasian with a beard and wearing sunglasses with a khaki jacket and black pants.
After the police started the investigation and established three crime scenes in the park, the graffiti removal works soon started since it is essential to remove offences like this because they have a negative effect on the perception of safety in the community, as well as, they increase the probability of people committing new offences.
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had his side in the debate and expressed that Stan Grant was ‘dead wrong’ regarding the date of the discovery of Australia. In a Facebook post, Turnbull said that the graffiti was “part of a deeply disturbing and totalitarian campaign to not just challenge our history but to deny it and obliterate it”.
Additionally, he called the actions a ‘Stalinist exercise’ of trying to erase history. He also said, “A free society debates its history, it does not deny it. It writes new books, it does not burn the old ones. It builds new monuments as it preserves old ones.” Other government ministers also reacted to the attack, including Treasurer Scott Morrison, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and NSW Police acting Inspector Peter Northey.