May 31, 2004


Most of the cops I know tend not to draw attention to themselves when they’re out drinking. Then again, most of the cops I know are Victorian; their approach apparently isn’t employed in Western Australia:

Claims that nine off-duty police officers taunted and humiliated American university students about the US involvement in Iraq are being investigated by West Australian police.

The incident occurred last Tuesday in Fremantle, when drunken police officers, seven from WA and two from NSW, forced the students to kneel on the ground at their dormitory at Notre Dame University.

The kneeling episode followed a nightclub fight in which an officer received some free dental work from a US student:

Enraged, some of the drunken officers tracked the American down to the university.

It was there that several American students, including some who had nothing to do with the clash, were made to kneel on the ground.

It is believed the taunting included comments such as "Yankees go home", "What are you doing in our country" and "What are you doing in Iraq".

Nice. Robert Corr, a student at Notre Dame, writes:

Rumour has it that a similar incident occurred earlier this year: a group of bikies from a well-known gang followed the students back to their dorm, kicked down the door and threw someone down a flight of stairs.

Who would have thought that two gangs who wear leather jackets and club colours would behave so similarly?

You’d expect that the police allegedly involved in this might be impetuous youngsters. Wrong; today’s West Australian reports that six of those under investigation are detectives.

UPDATE. Angie Schultz predicts that the American street will erupt with rage:

Unbearable humiliation! We must avenge this insult to our honor! All signs of the Australian oppressors must be purged from our country, like, uh, like ... Fosters! Down with Fosters! And squash the Bananas in Pajamas! And ... and ... gig the Wiggles! And, um, and ... well, I'll have to think about it.

UPDATE II. Then again, things could have been worse ...

Posted by Tim Blair at May 31, 2004 11:04 AM

Clearly this abuse discredits the entire anti-war effort and was surely brought on by a disrespect for the rights of dissenters shown by the highest opposition leaders. This fish rots from the head!

Posted by: Sortelli at May 31, 2004 at 11:13 AM

I hope this doesn't lead to a boycott of Paul Hogan's movies. I know that artists like Mr. Hogan are usually more sensitive to peoples of other cultures (like American students). Don't lump Australian artists like Paul Hogan in with the rest of racist Australia!

Posted by: Joe Geoghegan at May 31, 2004 at 11:24 AM

It sure sounds like Australian cops must be some of the world's biggest pussies. After all, they got their asses whipped in a bar-fight by A BUNCH OF COLLEGE KIDS!!! And then, instead of taking their ass-whipping like men, they hunt the kids (or, rather some kids) down. No wonder the cops in Australia love speed cameras -- they're too chicken-shit to actually confront a speeding motorist. Punks.

Posted by: David Crawford at May 31, 2004 at 11:40 AM

So welcome to the post-modern world, where everything has to have a political spin to it.

Making them kneel, and chant anti-American political slogans?! Couldn't the cops have just had a old-fashioned, non-political "slugfest" (like what must have happened in WWII Australian "liberty" ports, between drinking, angry Australians and drinking, overbearing US Marines/sailors)?

I guess these must be "leftie" cops? Sounds strange, my mental image of most US cops is politically conservative (though certainly not all are by any means).

Oh well, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." I'm going outside right now, to discard my "shrimps on the barbie". And no more Mel Gibson movies!

Posted by: Paul H. at May 31, 2004 at 11:51 AM

Q. What's the difference between a policeman's truncheon and a magician's wand?

A. One is used for cunning stunts.

Posted by: Greg at May 31, 2004 at 11:52 AM

If this is a fact, I am most angry. I don't hold this against Australians in general, it's like you blaming us for breeding Hillary Clinton or Michael Moore. We all have pimples on our asses.

But I've know of cops up here in Yank Land who went on drunken sprees at conventions....and lost their careers. This deserves no less.

And it hurts Australia as bad as anyone else. If you can't trust your law enforcement officers to behave responsibily, God help you.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 31, 2004 at 11:58 AM

Say fellas. Aren't these the people you trust all the guns too?

Posted by: Papertiger at May 31, 2004 at 12:15 PM

My sister-in-law used to work at the NSW Police Academy (as a civilian) in Goulburn before she got married to my brother.

She said that after a while, she could pick quickly who would be "a good cop or not". She went on to say this was not a reference to being a good crime stopper or non-corrupt, but about being a human. The ability to do the job without being a bastard.

Basically, any officer straight out of school was more likely to have trouble in the future. The "good cops" as she saw it, were more mature and had often joined the force after completing an apprenticeship or worked at another job for some years. (In fact my best mate, who is a NSW walloper, worked with me in a Bank for 8 years before being accepted into the force. He is now a Sgt in Metro Sydney.)

I concur with Tim's comments, and would suggest NSW fun-busters are the same.

Re Robert Corr's comment about the bikies and similarities. Another common denominator is that both "teams" played an away game at the same dorm. Internal problems amongst the inmates at the Uni that need to be attended to by the appropriate authorities?????

Posted by: DaveACT at May 31, 2004 at 12:27 PM

Papertiger, no they have guns but arent allowed to use them (just think - some knife-wielding maniac may actually get shot !!)
I think the current weapon of self defence is pepper spray, and some are even arguing that this is inhumane.
I guess the next step down on the scale would be a severe talking-to.

Posted by: Johnny Wishbone at May 31, 2004 at 12:32 PM

My recollection of the Perth and Freemantle police departments is that is was/is(?) riddled with corruption. When I was there in 2000, there was some story about collusion between top police officers and the big bikie gang from the area. There were all sorts of assurances the police departments would be cleaned up. Oh well.

I'm with David Crawford- how embarrasing for the police that college students, from Notre Dame no less, got the better of them. As far as their remarks about Iraq, I wonder if the chicken-shit cops would make the same remarks to an Australian Special Forces member they might meet in a local bar. They were some of the first Australians sent to the Mid East, and they train just down the road from Freemantle.

Posted by: Polly at May 31, 2004 at 12:39 PM

Lucky for the coppers that Reagan isn't still President. He invaded Grenada ostensibly to "save" American medical students! (Yes, I know that wasn't the sole reason and the students were grateful).

Slightly OT but a buddy of mine, a Yank, worked in Perth for a while as he drifted around the globe for a year after college. He said that whenever Aussies there heard his accent, they assumed he was there to visit Bon Scott's home.

Apparently, many Yanks who go to Perth (mostly US Navy) make it a priority to see the late, great singer's former abode.

Regrettably, Eric never did visit the Scott domecile.

Now I must listen to some AC/DC!

Posted by: JDB at May 31, 2004 at 12:55 PM

It doesn't make any sense. What kind of policemen mock a war in which their own country's troops fought? The kind that beat up kids in school I guess.

Poor, really poor form.

Posted by: chip at May 31, 2004 at 12:55 PM

Well, this is obviously a plot by Bush and Howard to discredit the anti-war movement in Australia.

But, insults? Is that the best you can do? I mean, it's not like we can't spare a few college students... whatever happened to "furtive movement" shootings or "la lay del fuga?"

To paraphrase Robespierre: "It's worse than wrong, it's... kind of pathetic."

Posted by: richard mcenroe at May 31, 2004 at 12:59 PM

In an attempt at damage control, Mel Gibson began reminding his American audiences today that he was born in Brooklyn...

Posted by: richard mcenroe at May 31, 2004 at 01:01 PM

"I think the current weapon of self defence is pepper spray"

Are we really a country being protected by condiments?

Instead of Sidewinders we probably have side-dishes!

Posted by: Dylan at May 31, 2004 at 01:04 PM

I am enjoying the mental image of some Notre Dame student sh*t kicking an anti-war Australian cop in a bar. "Anit-war cop" should be an oxymoron. Sounds more like opportunistic anti-americanism.

Posted by: Stacy at May 31, 2004 at 01:10 PM

Follow the first link! A German barman was insulted and given a Nazi salute. One cop vomited across the bar. Classsy!!!!

Posted by: Stacy at May 31, 2004 at 01:16 PM

I attended the U of MN and there were always large groups of Agricultural exchange students from Aust. (Why??? no idea). I hate to stereotype, but they made the Hells Angels look temperate and carefully considered.

Posted by: Stacy at May 31, 2004 at 01:19 PM

I'm not sure I understand...your cops are peaceniks?! I must be missing something important here. Send those cops to work in Dallas, Houston or Detroit and we'll send them back as sacks full of small, greasy pellets suitable for fertilizers or bearing lubricant.

As an American, I'm not as outraged as I am embarrassed for you guys. I feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Posted by: Matt in Denver at May 31, 2004 at 01:22 PM

I have to agree with Angie, the American Street is going to erupt in outrage over this. I personally will boycott....well, maybe not.

If it was anything but Foster's. Oh well, never mind.

Posted by: Dave at May 31, 2004 at 01:25 PM

It should be pretty obvious why the police forced the students down on their knees, in front of them.

Posted by: narkynark at May 31, 2004 at 01:33 PM

Over here, when cops bust on minorities and foreigners, they are forced to take cultural sensitivity courses.

I am begging for the same treatment in Australia for these guys. There's a circle of hell where the punishment is sitting in an ice cold multimedia room where you're lectured to the end of time by a balding bearded guy with a sweater vest on how to be tolerant of every single thing on the planet.

Plus, I just like the idea of someone being forced to understand that Americans are affected by their native culture and that that can lead to misunderstandings due to the different ways in which we all communicate basic human needs and desires common to us all of us humans.

We got yer conditioned response right here, pal!

Posted by: Steve in Houston at May 31, 2004 at 01:35 PM

The world is just really freakin' weird, that's all I can say. To go from the 60's to now, with cops beating up peacenik hippie college kids to cops beating up college kids for being from the Evil Warmongering US Empire. . . gravity could reverse tomorrow and I would not be surprised as I hurtled off into space.

Posted by: Sortelli at May 31, 2004 at 01:35 PM

Police fortces are a protection racket, the expense of which has risen in proportion to the rise of socialisto govt. The fact they don't rpotect homes and lives, people from assault and battery, and many other things, that tyhe opportunitiy for commission of crimes is well demontrated, that , on top, many are used as revenue raisers for govt. says it all.

Posted by: d at May 31, 2004 at 01:37 PM

Oh, and tim - the reason the Victorian coppers you know don't draw attention to themselves is possibly because they are as bent as a dog's back leg, and don't want IA coming their way...

Posted by: attila at May 31, 2004 at 01:46 PM

I have to agree with Matt: I'm embarrassed for you guys. This behavior is pretty "third world", even for Cops!

Posted by: Richard Blaine at May 31, 2004 at 01:48 PM

I am enjoying the mental image of some Notre Dame student

Just to clear up what is probably a common misconception: the US students involved are probably not Notre Dame students. Notre Dame students stay in the Port Lodge dormitory at the other end of Mouat St.

The students involved are, as far as I can tell, probably from CSB/SJU, who stay in the P&O Hotel.

Posted by: Robert at May 31, 2004 at 01:55 PM

Uh... it was a bunch of drunks being assholes. That's what they do. Where's the surprise?

Posted by: Rebecca at May 31, 2004 at 02:03 PM


The exchange students were country boys, who work hard and play harder. Good sportsman (rugby or rules), and damn hard workers.

They were most likely trying to teach the yanks how to run a farm on the smell of an oily rag and without subsidies.

And the assaulted copper - most probably too drunk to see straight!!!! See, they are human - too human.

Posted by: DaveACT at May 31, 2004 at 02:17 PM

Stacy said..."I am enjoying the mental image of some Notre Dame student sh*t kicking an anti-war Australian cop in a bar."

Hey why don't you go back to pulling wings of insects or something. I don't see why the above violent 'mental image' is so satisfying. Truth be known, the average American student here is more likely to be anti-war and anti-American than the average Australian cop. Chomsky's children are well represented and evangelical.

Posted by: AussieJoe at May 31, 2004 at 02:20 PM

We much prefer frying kittens on the grill ("barbie" to you Ozzies) and pulling the legs off live peace protestors.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 31, 2004 at 02:45 PM

That's it. I've had it.

I'm giving up Vegemite sandwiches forever.

Don't mess with us Yanks, Timo.


Posted by: SteveMG at May 31, 2004 at 03:06 PM

Cop 1: "Arrest that man"
Cop 2: (drawing his laser speed camera and pointing it at the knife-wielding perpetrator) "Freeze !!"
(notes the speed reading) "Uh, musn't be working Sarge, it reads 0.00km/h"
Cop 1: (busily writing ticket) "What ? Try it again, constable...."
Cop 2: "Still not working Sarge, shall I radio for backup....."

Posted by: Jurchen McGhurkin at May 31, 2004 at 03:07 PM

"Yankees go home"? Grown men said that to the students as a taunt?

Sorry American friends - these clowns were just after any available 'them' to facilitate their need for crypto-gay bonding.

Most Australians will not only be appalled by their behaviour but will regard them as wankers. And they're going to look awfully stupid and pathetic marching into court, right before being busted back to the lost and found department.

Bye-bye dickheads.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 31, 2004 at 03:11 PM

Q: Abuse & Humiliation, is it? Well, did anyone have to wear a panty on their head? Dog collars? No? Then no harm done. Drink up, amigos. Then let's all go out back and shoot each of those drunken policemen in the kneecap.

Fair dinkum, we'll plink 'em.

Posted by: Carl H. at May 31, 2004 at 03:24 PM

jeez i wonder if the pictures of this abuse will adorn the front pages of Australian media for the next three weeks ?
the perpetrators were not americans, you say?
must be another cynical CIA plot.
Western Australia is not really Australia so the western australians keep telling us.
Now if you want to see American hugging Aussies, come to Queensland and you'll have a great holiday

Posted by: davo at May 31, 2004 at 04:33 PM

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that the loudest voice of dissent against the Occupation in Iraq would come from the WA police force.
A few American students got ruffed up by the local cops. Diddums.
Violence in all forms is deplorable, but if it's OK to lock up Australians illegally in Guantanamo bay, and wage international wars on the clear pretext of lies, what do we expect. If the United states consulate wants to hold an inquiry into the event, I can only recomend that the WA police claim the students had weapons of mass destruction. Recent history proves that this claim can justify all sorts of gratuitous violence without any accountability.

Posted by: trunk at May 31, 2004 at 04:35 PM

Not too many details on how the student, who knocked the cop's tooth out, and the cop got into their first argument .. which seems to have started things between the students and cops.

Cops should be disciplined, but I hope this doesn't turn into an 'incident' for either side.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at May 31, 2004 at 04:52 PM

OMG TRUNK, if the best you can do is say your abusive policemen aren't as bad as the Bush junta, then obviously you are just another lying oil stealing baby killer Halliburton employee!

Posted by: Sortelli at May 31, 2004 at 04:53 PM

In their drunken state, the WA cops mistook the yanks for Aborigines. If they had been ,the story would never have been front page news in WA.

Posted by: narkynark at May 31, 2004 at 04:53 PM

Cops should be disciplined, but I hope this doesn't turn into an 'incident' for either side.

:( Stop talking sense, Chris. I am just itching to use anti-war cop abuse as a foil to discredit the entire anti-war position a la Abu Grahib. It's the same logical leap.

But you're right, two wrongs don't make a right and all that. *sighs* *shuffles off kicking dirt*

Posted by: Sortelli at May 31, 2004 at 04:56 PM

"Western Australia is not really Australia so the western australians keep telling us."

News to me. I've always thought of myself as being Australian.

Anyway, these cops are fuckwits and the sooner they're booted off the force the better.

Posted by: gaz at May 31, 2004 at 04:56 PM

Having read the original piece again I think that there is an angle to this that has yet to be explored. Why is there a German barman in a WA hotel? Are we facing a global shortage of Irish pint pullers? How does this relate to global warming?

Posted by: Greg at May 31, 2004 at 05:16 PM

I'm gobsmacked by the tiny footprint this incident is leaving in the 'old' media.

Narkynark notes that this would have been high profile in WA if the victims had been Aboriginal. Can you imagine if the victims had been Islamic students? That would have been national in a flash.

At least the ABC picked up on it, probably deciding that with their recent 'exposes' on Victorian coppers, that this incident fits with The Agenda.

Did Fairfax pick up on this at all?

Can anybody else imagine the conversation in the Silly's editorial office?

Shouted outrage: "What's this, police brutality? Iraq? Prisoners forced to kneel?"

Mutter mutter: "Oh, hang on, the 'victims' were just minions of the Bushitler."

Conclusion: "They had it coming, it's hardly news really, is it? After all, we're too busy what with being flat out after that fascist, Gene Simmons"

Posted by: Al Bundy at May 31, 2004 at 05:47 PM

Robert Corr has blogged this, so we can assume it wasn't him involved.

Nothing on Yobbo's site (yet)...... and he likes a night out ....... and he's a student (refer to his bio) ......... and he's from Perth........

Calling Yobbo - say it ain't true.

Posted by: DaveACT at May 31, 2004 at 05:57 PM

Al Bundy, you got my point wrong: it's because they are yanks that it hit the headlines. If they had been Aborigines, it would have been a non-story(unless they accidentally hung themselves in their cells with police-issue belts).

Posted by: narkynark at May 31, 2004 at 07:35 PM

I'm frankly surprised that nobody told me that Notre Dame had moved from Indiana to Australia!

Posted by: Sean M. at May 31, 2004 at 09:40 PM

This comes as no suprise to me. Australia's finest are just a beer removed from soccer hooligan.

Posted by: Papertiger at June 1, 2004 at 12:06 AM

Whoops, sorry about that Narky, time for a pair of specs I think. Fairly spectacular blunder on my part.

My point stands that this incident seems to have very little traction nationally.

Also, I must confess Fairfax did get it, contrary to my earlier claim.

Posted by: Al Bundy at June 1, 2004 at 12:14 AM

"Uh... it was a bunch of drunks being assholes. That's what they do. Where's the surprise?"

they're police officers. they should be better than that.



Posted by: samkit at June 1, 2004 at 12:22 AM

TO: Tim Blair
RE: Good Cop/Bad Cop

There are good cops out there. But they seem to be becoming rarities as time goes by.

The vast majority that I've had experience with, in an official capacity, have not been that good; faulty reporting of accidents and then covering their fourth-point-of-contact when the truth becomes apparent, lackadasical investigations of breaking and entering, etc., etc.

Fortunately I've not had encouters with the likes that pull their weapons and start shooting at motorists when off-duty and there is an altercation in traffic; an incident in Denver a few years ago. Then there is the scandal about how the Greenwood Village PD covered up a murder, just to keep their 'efficiency' up to 'par'.

I could go on and on. It's becoming an on-going tale of woe.

And the more woeful it becomes, the less authority the police will have. And they'll become more violent accordingly.

A vicious cycle into the abyss.



Posted by: Chuck Pelto at June 1, 2004 at 01:22 AM

Chuck, I visited a then-growing church one Sunday (which was meeting in a converted office/warehouse space but has since built a freakin' cathedral) and I'll never forget the thrill of seeing the off-duty cop who was directing traffic drawing down on a car that looked like it was thinking about ignoring his more subtle stop signals.

Probably not fair to blame the church for that, but we never went back.

Posted by: Brian Jones at June 1, 2004 at 02:49 AM

I think Rob Corr should shut the hell up. He obviously has absolutely no idea of what the hell happened and speculating only makes it worse for the people involved. Shut up Rob and make sure you get your facts right before you open your huge inaccurate unwanted mouth and opinions.

Posted by: Rick James at June 2, 2004 at 12:51 AM

As a 44-year old retired American Navy sailor (mmathewsbb61@earthlink.. whose mum was born and raised in Subiaco, I can assure you that 95% of we Yanks will not make a big fuss over this incident with the detectives. No worries Mate! And I will NOT be boycotting any Aussie products either! I just wish you would allow Swan Lager to be exported to we unwashed Americans who dont know what real beer IS! Oh, by the way, what WERE the names of those keystone cop detectives? Uh, just for future reference, you understand... :o)

Posted by: Mark Mathews at June 2, 2004 at 05:55 AM

As a 44-year old retired American Navy sailor (mmathewsbb61@earthlink.. whose mum was born and raised in Subiaco, I can assure you that 95% of we Yanks will not make a big fuss over this incident with the detectives. No worries Mate! And I will NOT be boycotting any Aussie products either! I just wish you would allow Swan Lager to be exported to we unwashed Americans who dont know what real beer IS! Oh, by the way, what WERE the names of those keystone cop detectives? Uh, just for future reference, you understand... :o)

Posted by: Mark Mathews at June 2, 2004 at 05:55 AM

Australian cops , corrupt or not are just as bad as the terrorists they protect here in this country and thats why your students are bashed

Posted by: Stu Richardson at June 4, 2004 at 06:15 AM

Allow me to retract my previous comment: they were indeed Notre Dame students. They've rearranged the accommodation since last semester.

Posted by: Robert at June 5, 2004 at 02:36 AM