Aus­tralia’s mean streets

Seven’s new docu­d­rama ex­poses the ter­ri­fy­ing world of crim­i­nal vi­o­lence, writes Erin McWhirter

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

GANGS of Oz, Chan­nel 7’s at­tempt to ride on the rat­ings coat-tails of un­der­world drama Un­der­belly, is set to shock with its por­trayal of lo­cal crime.

Docu­d­rama Gangs of Oz is gritty — de­void of glam­our in the way it presents ac­tual po­lice-video footage and chill­ing crime sto­ries told by gang mem­bers.

Gang-re­lated crime is run­ning ram­pant and the show prom­ises to open the eyes of Aus­tralians to an al­most un­be­liev­able world of vi­o­lence and dis­re­spect for the law.

‘‘It’s get­ting the play­ers from the other side, the guys who were in th­ese gangs, that makes this se­ries very dif­fer­ent,’’ se­ries pro­ducer Neil Mercer, an ex­pe­ri­enced crime re­porter, says.

‘‘There are as­pects to it (the se­ries) that sur­prised even me. I wasn’t aware of some of th­ese sto­ries and it wasn’t un­til we started talk­ing to the play­ers that th­ese gob­s­mack­ing de­tails emerged. I think some of this stuff will out­rage or­di­nary peo­ple be­cause we read a lot about it in the press, but see­ing it on screen is some­thing dif­fer­ent. It just makes you re­alise how bru­tal and vi­o­lent th­ese gangs are.’’

In the first episode, which ex­plores Syd­ney’s Mid­dle East­ern gangs, one of the most en­gag­ing yet shock­ing mo­ments is when Omar Rus­tom, who was ar­rested for drug deal­ing in 2000 and is known as one of the in­fa­mous Telo­pea St ‘‘boys’’, shows his con­tempt for two burly de­tec­tives dur­ing an in­ter­view.

Asked if he re­calls what he was do­ing on May 26, Rus­tom replies: ‘‘I was f---ing your mother. I don’t know where I was on the 13th of June. How the hell would I know, mate? Do I re­mem­ber what I did yes­ter­day? I f---ed your mother, and I f---ed your mother too,’’ he adds, ges­tur­ing at the sec­ond de­tec­tive.

‘‘What you gonna do? Piece of s---, you’ve got me on tape, f---the tape.’’

Mercer says the syn­di­cates’ dis­re­gard for ev­ery­thing and every­one is most star­tling.

‘‘For shoot­ings to hap­pen in broad day­light in a shop­ping cen­tre as a mother puts her baby into the car . . . th­ese syn­di­cates don’t even have re­spect for their own lives.

‘‘They just don’t care who they are go­ing to hurt or kill. Peo­ple are go­ing to be hor­ri­fied by this par­tic­u­lar bit of tape, just the to­tal dis­re­spect for two cops. He (Rus­tom) is scream­ing that stuff out and it isn’t like he’s yelling at 19-yearold rook­ies— they are big, sea­soned de­tec­tives.’’

It was par­tic­u­larly risky ven­tur­ing to Telo­pea St to film a seg­ment with Rus­tom, as he’s liv­ing to­day. Mercer doesn’t deny the dan­ger the show’s crew faced in mak­ing the se­ries.

‘‘The cam­era crews have been the most at risk, es­pe­cially when they went into Telo­pea St. They were threat­ened by sev­eral young men who came out with hood­ies over their faces and threat­ened the cam­era crew in no un­cer­tain terms to get out of there or risk dire con­se­quences.

‘‘All you have to look at is the Hell’s Angels war at the mo­ment and you’re see­ing drive-bys be­com­ing a part of nor­mal Syd­ney life.

‘‘I never thought I would see that.’’

Mercer says with more guns on our streets, the fu­ture ap­pears grim.

‘‘I think there are more guns than ever out there and what’s scary is peo­ple’s will­ing­ness to use them, when 20 years ago they might have had a brawl. Now it’s like, just bring out the gun and blaze away.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.