NSW police charge man over ‘commissioning a crime’ following Sydney riot

A 34-year-old Sydney man has been charged with encouraging the commission of crimes following the violent outbreak outside a Sydney church earlier this week.

Warning: This story has details of violence which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

NSW police alleged about 15 peaceful protesters were rushed by a large group of around 250 people when they attempted to protest about a block away from the church grounds. One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham was speaking at the event.

LGBTIQA+ group Community Action for Rainbow Rights said they were protesting Latham’s long history of anti-transgender comments. They had to be rescued by police after the group violently attacked them. Police called in specialised riot control officers to control the situation.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday NSW police superintendent Sheridan Waldau said officers were reviewing video footage from the incident and more arrests were expected.

“This was a very violent confrontation that occurred at an event which was supposed to be a peaceful protest… this incident will not be tolerated. This type of violence is not to be tolerated by New South Wales Police,” he said.

One of the men arrested is Christian Sukkar, a prominent member of the Sydney Christian community.

Following the riot, a video of Sukkar has quickly spread on social media. In the clip he says “if you’re going down to see the protestors tomorrow there is only one way and that is to grab them and you drag them by their f***ing hair and you f***ing get them out of there… you go there tomorrow and you f***ing shake them up and you drag them by the f***ing head and you remove them St Michael’s at Belfield. It’s time to rise, time to let them know where we stand.”

Speaking to the ABC Sukkar said he understood his arrest was in relation to the video he made, and he’s now offering an apology.

“I’m very apologetic if my message turned very harmful … if they took my comments as an incitement of hate,” he told the ABC. He says his video has been blown out of proportion and he had originally only shared it “between a couple of boys”.

In a separate online interview Sukkar said he had only incited people to attend the church, and after receiving a warning from police he sent a second video asking people not to be violent.

He also defended his actions saying he had not asked people to “stab or shoot” the protesters, and he had specifically only incited violence if the protesters had stepped onto church grounds.

Speaking to YouTuber Chriscoveries, who was also assaulted at the event, Sukkar said he believed the LGBTIQA+ protesters had been organised by the NSW government as a deliberate ploy to cast Mark Latham in a negative light.

“I don’t believe they came free willingly, I believe it’s a tactic from the government to send them there, and we were used as bait, to stop Mark Latham from speaking. That’s what I believe.”

Sukkar will appear in Bankstown Local Court on 11th April, he has not indicated how he will plead.

Police have confirmed that two others were also arrested. A 41-year-old man was charged with common assault and is scheduled to appear before the court on May 30, 2023.

A 42-year-old man from Moorebank was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer. He is scheduled to appear before Bankstown Local Court on April 11, 2023.

OIP Staff

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