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“Get off our beach. This is our beach. We own it.”
These are the fighting words a group of thugs spoke to three North Cronulla surf lifesavers before bashing them on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The attack has disgusted Sutherland Shire residents and surf lifesavers who volunteer their time to protect the lives of beachgoers.
Cronulla locals say in the past three years a large influx of youths have travelled from Sydney’s west to the beachside to intimidate beachgoers and start fights.
During the October long weekend, police were called to North Cronulla three times over several hours to defuse a large-scale stand-off between and visiting gangs and locals.
Surf Lifesaving Sydney rescue services manager Stephen Leahy said it was common for Middle Eastern men from western Sydney to taunt Cronulla surf lifesavers by stealing their equipment, making idle threats and kicking balls at them.
Some regular Cronulla beachgoers said that the behaviour of Middle Eastern groups was so offensive, they opted to travel to other beaches instead.
Clare Mooney and Kristie Keith, both 21, of Campbelltown said they had been visiting Cronulla for years but were now planning to travel to Wollongong for a peaceful beach outing. After spending yesterday at Cronulla, they said they were sick of being covered with sand while almost being hit by youths playing football over their heads.
“We said we’ll go back to Wollongong next week so we don’t have to put up with these yobbos,” Ms Mooney said.
The latest incident occurred at 3pm on Sunday when three lifesavers, aged 15, 19 and 20, were walking from the beach to the surf club at the end of their shift.
They were approached by four men of Middle Eastern appearance, aged in their late teens or early 20s, who initiated a verbal confrontation.
One of the men king-hit the 19-year-old, who fell back and struck a metal picket fence, sustaining a cut and being knocked unconscious.
Eight to 10 other men then joined the original four.
Some of these men tried to stop the fight but others continued bashing the lifeguards.
The 20-year-old suffered facial bruising and a damaged jaw and the 15-year-old suffered bruising to the face.
Police yesterday pledged extra beach patrols of Cronulla.
(Posted on December 8, 2005)