A cab driver was racially abused as he was viciously beaten by a gang of thugs who ambushed and robbed five taxis in separate incidents in Melbourne's west overnight. Up to six men wearing balaclavas and armed with baseball bats pulled up in two stolen cars and attacked the drivers at Sunshine, Brooklyn and Laverton North between midnight and 1:00am this morning. One victim suffered serious head injuries. The owner of the taxi the man was driving says the driver was taunted as he was beaten with baseball bats. "They hit very badly you know, abusing him, you know, saying you're Indian, go back to your country," owner Sunny Singh told Fairfax radio.
Welcome to Melbourne's "Wild" West. Interestingly, despite the "go back to your country" taunts, it appears that the suspects are a gang of Pacific Islanders. I guess violent thugs are not known for their sense of irony.
When attacks on Indians in Australia dominated the headlines a few years ago, one of the big debates was whether they were racially motivated or merely opportunistic. In truth, the diverse nature of the attacks meant that it was difficult to generalise. But this case shows an example of an attack in which racism plays a part yet was probably not the motivation. The gang appears clearly to have robbery as its primary motive, and was probably not committing robbery out of any racial motive. The taunts are part of the attack but probably not the reason for it - they are just the sort of thing that spews out of the mouth of a stupid thug as he beats someone up.
That said, it is possible that the driver got such a heavy beating due to his race. You wonder why the attackers were so brutal, when they could have just taken his money and left. Would they have been quite as violent to a taxi driver who was white? African? East Asian? Pacific Islander? Probably... I'm not seriously advancing this theory, but nonetheless I think it's something worth pondering when we consider what exactly constitutes racially-motivated crime.
Addressing the myths and misconceptions about anti-Indian violence in Australia (from 2010)
"Curry-bashing" on the rise in Melbourne - Indian students targeted (from 2009)