A Controversial Anti-Border Force Mural In Bondi Has Been Destroyed

The artwork contained 24 armed Border Force officers, one for every suicide in Australian detention centres since 2010.

anti-Border Force mural Bondi

A controversial mural in Bondi protesting Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers has been destroyed by vandals just hours after the local council voted down calls to remove it.

The painting by artist Luke Cornish, aka E.L.K., featured 24 armed Border Force officers in body armour underneath the words “Not… Welcome to Bondi”. According to Cornish, the 24 officers represent the 24 suicides that have taken place in Australian detention centres since 2010.

The mural was approved by Waverley council, but attracted criticism from some residents. A change.org petition calling for its immediate removal received nearly 900 signatures, and described the work as “not just offensive but totally inappropriate for a family location”.

Despite this, the council on Tuesday voted down a motion to remove the mural, with Waverley mayor John Wakefield noting it was only ever meant to be temporary.

He was more right than he realised. By Wednesday morning, the mural had been defaced with white paint.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Cornish said he hadn’t expected the mural to last long given the “extremely ephemeral” nature of political street art, but felt disappointed that his message had been lost in the controversy.

“The conversation I wanted to have has been completely hijacked. It’s a conversation about freedom of speech now, and that’s not what I wanted to be talking about.”

“Everyone should just calm the fuck down and talk about what the actual problem is.”

“People saying their children are traumatised by the mural … there are literally children in detention with their teeth rotting out.”

Feature image via Luke Cornish/Instagram