A YOUNG woman attacked during a mob assault police have linked to Tent City says she thought she was going to drown when one of the assailants held her head under water.
The 22-year-old, who didn’t want to be identified, was amongst a group of seven friends who stripped down to their undies for a midnight swim at Bathers Beach just after New Years Day when a group of 10 to 14 people turned up.
“They approached us and there were five of them on the limestone wall that runs along Bathers Beach,” she told the Herald.
“They saw a friend having a shower and they kicked him off the wall and one of them head-butted him.”
She says despite her friends’ attempts to defuse the situation, the group surrounded them and started yelling and pushing.
“I was trying to run away, but because they had two on to every one there was always someone there to catch me, then someone grabbed my hair and ripped me down.
“She dragged me across the sand to the water and tried to drown me.
“All my friends thought I was going to die,” she said of the traumatic experience.
The young woman said the bigger group’s yells might have indicated they felt swimming in underwear was disrespectful.
“It was just like ‘this is our land’, ‘you are in the water’, ‘my auntie’s here’,” she said.
Although her friends lost most of their belongings, she doesn’t believe theft was the group’s initial intent, as bags were left unattended on the limestone wall and would have been easily swiped without confronting the swimmers.
After the attack, one of the young men tracked his stolen phone via an app to Pioneer Park, leading to an extensive police search of the homeless camp the following day.
Despite that link and saying that visits to Fremantle are “on the back-burner for quite some time”, the young woman still is sympathetic to the plight of the camp residents.
“There needs to be appropriate services to provide and deal with the residents of tent city’s trauma,” she said.
“Without a doubt, 95 per cent of Tent City’s residents would have experienced trauma to get them into a situation of homelessness.
“Without intervention, trauma will continue to spread and impact another person’s life – like my own since the assault.” Police added the assault to
a list of crimes they allege have stemmed from the camp.
by STEVE GRANT