Sunday, January 14, 2007

Walk without Fear Rally - Brisbane

January 14, 2007 - Hundreds of people have gathered in a park on Brisbane's northside for a rally promoting safety on local bike paths and walkways. The Walk Without Fear rally was organised by local media in response to a spate of sex attacks on women using public pathways. Women turned up in droves for the rally at Kelvin Grove in the city to protest against at least two men who have attacked 38 women...

The Walk Against Fear rally was organised in response to a spate of sex attacks on women using public pathways. A number of police officers also attended.

The Courier-Mail reports that sexual predators who have terrorised dozens of women on Brisbane's bikeways in the past year may have been at a rally today where angry women warned they will be caught. Among those who gave their support at the rally, could have been the very people the women were protesting against, police said.

Acting Queensland Police Commissioner Dick Condor told the crowd that public awareness of the crimes is the key to arresting those responsible. Conder said it was possible the attackers themselves had been drawn to the event. "I wouldn't be surprised if they do turn up today," Mr Conder said. "People have been known in past to turn up to rallies and it's dangerous ground for them because there would be a number of people who have been subject to those assaults here today (who could recognise them)."

The attacks began in January last year and have included two rapes. They are thought to be the work of at least two men; a cyclist who gropes women as he rides past, and another more violent man who surprises his victims from behind.

Safety information and alert whistles were handed out in a bid to prevent more attacks, and police sketches of the offenders were provided in the hope someone recognised them.

Acting Premier Anna Bligh said police had been inundated with 454 calls offering information since a $50,000 reward was offered last week. "We are, I believe, getting closer and closer to solving these crimes but in the meantime we want to see people out on the pathways riding, walking, running, enjoying themselves."

Those who attended said they had come to show their support to the victims, send a message to the attackers and show their intention to keep exercising.

Phillipa Tziolis and Joanne Grey sported signs with police sketches of the attackers and the words "You will be caught, your days are numbered".

"We will not be stopped," Ms Tziolis said. "There's so much public outrage that so many attacks have taken place, that people will just be on the lookout for the offender or the offenders," Ms Grey said. "I think it's outrageous that we can't think that we'll be safe ... it needs to be stopped."

At least 36 women have been targeted on pathways in Brisbane's northside over the past 12 months. The Courier-Mail's Stephen Sealey said the newspaper had launched its Walk Without Fear campaign after the State Government revealed all leads in the assault cases had run cold. "This issue has struck a real nerve in the community and we have organised the rally... to give Brisbane people the chance to take a stand together," Mr Sealey said.

After the sexual assault of a girl, 16, near her Red Hill home on Tuesday, two women came forward to report attacks that occurred last year. "We believe it is quite possible we may get more historical complaints," said Detective Inspector Bob Hytch, who heads the investigation, called Operation Echo Shine. "Our plea is if people are out there and they have information, please come forward."

Det-Insp Hytch said extra police were called in late last week to cope with the amount of new information being supplied to his team. He would not comment on whether police had obtained the DNA of any of the attackers, but said: "Obviously, people are aware that we use DNA as an investigative strategy."

He said many of the women who had been attacked had fought back.

Residents, police rally against bike path attacks - ABC News
Courier Mail Campaign
Women rally against fear - The Sunday Mail
Taking a stand on security - Sunday Mail
Wider investigation into sex attacks - Channel 7 News
Victims, police to rally against bike path attacks - The Australian

No comments: