Racist vandalism disfigures Fingal cemetery
Nikki Todd | 12:01am March 8, 2012
VANDALS have attacked the Aboriginal community’s 150-year-old cemetery at Fingal Head, smashing graves and painting racist slogans across the site.
The cemetery is the only indigenous graveyard in Tweed Shire and the final resting place for more than 100 Aboriginal and Islander residents, including the revered elder Caomoi — one of the last nominal kings of the Tweed Coast — and his son Churaki.
The destruction, believed to have occurred between 7.30am and 9am on Tuesday, included the smashing of a porcelain photograph on the grave of Clarence Langus Phillips, who has many descendants still living at Fingal.
Racist slogans including a swastika and the words “white power” and “KKK” — the abbreviation for white supremacist group the Klu Klux Klan — were also painted on a monument wall at the cemetery.
The vandalism has shocked and disgusted the tight-knit Fingal community, scores of whom visited the site yesterday in a show of support against the attack.
“It is wrong,” said Sharon Phillips, whose father’s grave was smashed.
“This is where all of our ancestors live. I can tell you there are 14 of us Phillips all up in arms about this and it is not just us, folks from the whole community are here to support us.”
Kevin Slabb, whose siblings are buried in the cemetery, said he was shocked by the incident.
“This is out of character with Fingal people,” Mr Slabb said.
“I’ve lived here all my life and I don’t think anybody who lives here and knows the people would do this.
“The indigenous and non-indigenous people here have always connected well.”
Fingal Head Community Association president Dawn Walker said residents were deeply concerned.
“I can’t believe that in a peaceful and cohesive community like Fingal we would have to experience this form of imported and ugly racism,” Ms Walker said.
“The wider community has come out today to say we will not tolerate this sort of racist vandalism.”
As Tweed Shire Council workers began cleaning the graffiti, police were canvassing the area for potential witnesses.
“We are taking this very seriously,” said Tweed Byron LAC Police Inspector Gary Cowan.
“I just can’t understand why someone would do that to a grave site. We are throwing all available resources at it to try and get the result we need.”
Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Tweed police on 5536 0999.