Friday, July 17, 2020
Greens staffer Xiaoran Shi, convicted for defacing Captain Cook statue
The Greens staffer who spray painted “No pride in genocide” on a statue of Captain Cook in central Sydney has been compared in court to a “guerrilla in the night” who deliberately fuelled Australia’s longstanding racial tensions.
Xiaoran Shi was on Friday convicted for painting those words, ‘sovereignty never ceded’ and the Aboriginal flag in black on the three sides of the Hyde Park monument’s base in the hours after Sydney’s second Black Lives Matter protest in June.
The 28-year-old can expect further punishment after she escaped waiting media outside the Downing Centre Local Court by exiting through a fire door and set off alarms.
Soon after Shi released a statement declaring “the real crime is that nobody has been convicted for an Aboriginal death in custody”, after her lawyer Michael Blair had told the court his client took full responsibility for the act.
Shi was arrested alongside her “lookout” Charmaine Morrison-Mills on nearby College St after police were alerted to the vandalism about 4 o’clock on June 14.
Officers caught the activists red-handed, finding a bag of spray cans, and both women pleaded guilty to possessing graffiti implements and wilfully defacing a protected place.
Downing Centre Local Court heard Shi – a part-time staffer of NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge — was bombarded with “abhorrent abuse” sent by “keyboard warriors” online after her arrest.
Deputy chief magistrate Michael Allen asked reporters in the court, who he said had “more than a passing interest” in the case, to take heed of the slurs Shi was subjected to, describing them as inexcusable.
He read out to the court several of the racist messages she received, including being called an “Asian c**t”, a “gutless piece of sh*t” and “dog boiling sl*t”.
“That’s not the sort of society that I sit here to uphold or indeed to protect … and not the sort of society I want to live in,” Magistrate Allen said.
“But that is what this deliberate, calculated, attention-seeking act has lit a match under.”
The magistrate accepted the vandalism was motivated by a “genuine” belief but described the duo as being like “guerillas in the night” who undermined the “absolute, unquestionable” right to peaceful protest.
“There is a clear tension in the community between those who consider (those sorts of) monuments to be hurtful and others who consider them symbols of pride,” he said.
“What these sorts of actions do is add fuel to the fires of the extremes of those debates.”
He said Shi was an otherwise hardworking, intelligent and loyal person but it would be inappropriate not to record a conviction for the deliberate act.
Mr Shoebridge stood by her in the wake of the incident, saying in a statement it took place “well outside of work hours”.
He has been contacted for comment.
The Redfern woman previously edited University of Sydney student newspaper Honi Soit.
Morrison-Mills was convicted on July 2 after pleading guilty to the charges and fined $2000.
The 27-year-old was also ordered to pay the City of Sydney $449.85 – half the cost of removing the graffiti.
Shi was ordered to stump up the other half of the cost on Friday in addition to her own fine of $1760.
Both women spent 15 hours in custody after their arrest.