The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was check the news. Sombre, tragic, but relieving. Not a lot of new information at that point beyond that it was over and three were dead. There was still an exclusion zone in the city, which would remain for much of the day. City-bound traffic was gridlocked, probably not helped by people deciding to drive to work instead of catching public transport. Every half hour or hour the newsreaders seemed to have a few extra scraps of information to give us. Confirming a name, mentioning a rumour, providing a little more background.
Yesterday my sister called my mum from outside her place of work in Bondi Junction, talked about all the cops effectively locking it down. Mentioned at the end that she needed to go back inside. She was holding a timer and the security guards were giving her funny looks.
I’m assuming by this point most people have heard about the siege in Martin Place, in the middle of Sydney’s Central Business District, which ended with the tragic deaths of two hostages (RIP Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson) and the decidedly less tragic death of the gunman who held them for sixteen hours (Man Haron Monis, may he burn in a particularly warm circle of hell). My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, the wounded, and the freed hostages. My city bled last night but thank god, the police and the other emergency personnel present that it didn’t bleed more. Those guys are awesome, and they proved it once again.
There are going to be a lot of questions being asked about the siege, and it’s going to occupy our media for a while. Probably sit in the international media for a while as well. Will this be considered to be a terrorist act in the history books, or just a lone nutjob publicity-whore with nothing to lose but relative obscurity? I think a lot of us are angling at nutjob. Why was a man with more than forty indecent and sexual assault charges, a conviction for sending insulting letters to the families of dead soldiers and a charge for being an accessory to his wife’s murder given bail? Because the Crown’s case wasn’t considered particularly strong. Wasn’t he on an ASIO watchlist? (If not, why not?). Is Fox News in the US really trying to use these tragic events to argue against gun control? Fuck those guys. How did our own media handle the event? Pretty well according to some, aside from the 2pm print edition of the Telegraph. How did our politicians do? Not too bad either. How will this effect Christmas shopping, upon which so many people rely for financial security? Not well, and you’re likely to get called a materialistic arsehole for asking.
It’s a sad thing to have happened. Martin Place is so iconic, so central. The Harbour Bridge might be Sydney’s smile, but Martin Place is part of its heart. The outpouring of grief is real and overflowing. But truthfully, I’m so fuckin’ proud of my city right now. Proud of the cops who dealt with the situation so calmly and methodically, who tried so hard to end the situation without blood but acted decisively when required. Proud of the news folk, who kept us updated but, for the most part that I saw, were careful about what information was revealed and how it was delivered (such as the using ‘gunman’ instead of ‘terrorist’). Proud of the speed with which so many Sydneysiders made clear that they weren’t blaming the Islamic community, and would support them against the racists and rabble rousers. Proud of the Islamic community. You guys know what you’re going to go through because of the actions of this one criminal, but you still choose to be part of our community. Our city. I’ll ride with you. Anybody that wouldn’t can piss off. They don’t deserve to live in our city.
There’s not a lot I can add to any conversation about the events yesterday and this morning that smarter, more involved folk aren’t going to be debating better than I ever could for days to come, but I wanted to say that. Because our city is strong, and I am proud of that.