Hostages in the window with their hands up

Right now at a cafe in Sydney.

The story says the people in the window are staff. Not even privileged rich coffee-sippers, but young people who staff the cafe.*

Picture: Courtesy of Channel 7.

Picture: Courtesy of Channel 7. Source: Supplied

AN ARMED man is holding several people hostage at a cafe in Martin Place in Sydney.

There are hostages standing with their hands up at the windows in the popular Lindt chocolate shop, which has two or three entrances. There is also a black and white flag being held up in a window. It is believed to be the Black Standard, a jihadist flag.

Staff in shop aprons can be seen with their hands on the windows.

Police officers have guns drawn outside the cafe.

The chocolate shop is 30 or 40 metres from the Channel 7 offices so they have cameras trained on the building. The newsroom at Channel 7 have been evacuated.

That’s presumably how they got the photo of the hostages.

Happy holidays.

*Sorry. I didn’t mean to suggest it should have been rich people. It just seems like an extra stab to terrorize the people in aprons…But nobody deserves this; nobody.


  1. Occy says

    I’m stuck in a locked-down office building across the street from the shop. I hope the hostages will be okay.

  2. Paul Hatchman says

    No one deserves to be held hostage, no matter what their position in life. I’m a long time admirer of your writing, but your comment about privileged coffee drinkers is just offensive.

  3. John Morales says

    In the news:

    An armed man entered the Lindt cafe in Martin Place before 10:00am (AEDT) and has held staff and customers hostage all day.

    New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said police were negotiating with the man.

    “We have the best negotiators in the world and we are working through this methodically to make sure that nobody is injured,” she said.

    She said the five hostages who emerged from the cafe were being assessed to ensure they were in good health and were being spoken to by police.

    One man.

  4. Charles Sullivan says

    @Paul Hatchman: It is not uncommon for hostage takers to ask for ransom, so a privileged person would naturally be a better target. Low-wage employees at a cafe do not garner so much in monetary negotiations.

  5. Paul Hatchman says

    @Charles: I won’t comment any more after this so that Ophelia can clarify what she meant. I must admit I am emotionally invested in this since it happened just across the road from my work, in a place that I walk past every day. However, I still think that what she said was at least insensitive when we should be equally concerned about everyone who’s held hostage.

    I’ll note that one of the employees, who thankfully escaped, went to a private school and scored 99.25% on her university entrance score. This would put her in the top 1% of all school leavers and she’s studying to be an actuary. So, there is probably a cultural difference between how retail workers are considered in Australia vs the USA, not that that should matter in the slightest.

    To clarify my initial comment: My interpretation of what Ophelia wrote, reads that if this had happened in a law firm, it would be somehow more acceptable than in a coffee shop. Or it would at least more acceptable if they let the workers go and only kept the coffee drinkers. I’m absolutely sure that is not what she meant, but why mention privilege at all in that case?

  6. says

    I apologize for that part of the post. It was partly sarcasm about the possible intentions of the hostage-taker and partly just gut outrage about/for the staff. I didn’t at all mean that customers have it coming. That woman on the stretcher didn’t have it coming. Nobody has that coming.

  7. says

    If you need your faith in humanity restored, read this.

    In response to the hostage situation, a movement has appeared in the Twitterverse using the hashtag #IllRideWithYou. The tag has been getting used by people willing to escort women in Muslim dress on public transportation and, by being part of a group, keep them safe from possible backlash.

  8. Trebuchet says

    The standoff is now over after a police assault. The hostage-taker and at least one other person are dead. The guy apparently has a long history with the police.

  9. Occy says

    The scumbag has quite a history in Australia:

    * wrote poison pen letters to the families of dead Australian servicemen
    * charged as accessory to murder
    * 50+ allegations of sexual assault

  10. Decker says

    @7. That’ just wonderful that thousands have signed on to “I’ll ride with you”.

    However, don’t let that blind you to the fact this Imam had often spoken at Sydney area mosques and that his sermons drew very large crowds.

    Were a cute toddler to innocently point and laugh at an Imam’s beard, some Muslims would react by fearing a ‘backlash’.

  11. Paul Hatchman says

    @Ophelia: Appreciate the response.
    P.S. I’ve learned so much from reading your blog over these many years. Your writing has played a large role in helping me see the world from a different perspective. For that, I am extremely grateful.

  12. permanganater says

    I knew Katrina Dawson professionally, and her Brother, Sandy, socially and professionally.

    You are beneath contempt.

    I know at least four other members of the Sydney legal community who were told about this post after word got around Katrina was probably in Lindt. Katrina was well known for going beyond the call in her pro-bono work (which we all do) for the underprivileged, in particular through the Redfern Legal Center, see their tweets at @redfernlegalcentre

    Katrina did real (you know, actual) work for social justice long before that term was distorted and diluted by people for whom she would have spared little of her occasional acerbic turn of phrase.

    You are beneath contempt.

  13. says

    The photo you posted up shows one staff member and one other. The photo proves it’s not just staff. All this is a cheap attack on the hostages just for the clicks. You should rethink your privilege angle and incorporate that you have the privilege of writing this smut and not being a hostage.

    There is an irony to free thought blogs in that it is constrained by social just concepts. It is not free if it can not look past privilege and see people as people.

  14. says

    While we are certainly glad to see that you have apologized, we are disappointed that such an insensitive remark was made to begin with especially given that intentions are not magic and do not erase or negate the harm done. IOO, Such tragic events ought not to be used to make rhetorical or political points, and empathy for the victims and survivors ought to be foremost in mind, well ahead of any thoughts about privilege or the like.

    Just our two cents, FWIW.

  15. says

    Primarily, we just wanted an opportunity to share and discuss our views on your post.

    Secondarily, we hope for more empathy and perhaps more caution in future, from everyone on all sides, so that undue offnese or harm is minimized and avoided where possible. Lastly we, we hope that everyone is willing and able to learn from mistakes and to do better in the future.

  16. says

    Everything about it seems parodic to me, or if not parodic then hopelessly clueless. You haven’t struck me as clueless in the past, so I thought perhaps you intended parody.

  17. says

    If it makes you feel better about yourself to put others down, have at. Do what you need to do to get yourself through each day. We suppose it’s better to see you take it out on us rather than someone without such thick skin.

  18. says

    No, I didn’t put you down, or take it out on you. I said those two comments seemed either parodic or clueless and that I hadn’t taken your comments to be clueless in the past. That’s a limited observation, not a broad put-down.

  19. says

    Wonder how you would take it if others suggested that your writings were either parody or hopelessly clueless. We suspect you would take that as a put down and that it would not be very well received even if it was limited in scope. Regardless of what you intended (it’s not magic, remeber) your words were demeaning and belittling of our views.

    After all, you didn’t suggest our views were wrong or misguided or uninformed, or based on faulty reasoning, or bad evidence. We would welcome any of those constructive criticisms, but saying it seems like parody or hopelessly clueless is merely designed to insult or put down, not to correct or uplift.

    But truly we are not hurt by it so much as saddened to know that feel the need to resort to such belittling language, or, worse, that you are not able to recognize it as belittling. We know you are capable of a higher level of discourse than this.

  20. says

    If people said that two comments of mine were either parody or hopelessly clueless? I might be annoyed, I might be amused, I might be nothing much – but no, I wouldn’t take it as a global put-down. I didn’t say “your writings” were either parody or hopelessly clueless, just those two comments.

    I didn’t explain what was wrong with your comments because I found the prospect exhausting, and I thought you would be able to see it for yourself if you re-read them (or that you already knew and had done it on purpose).

    So I’ll try to explain. It comes across as hugely patronizing and self-righteous to say “good that you apologized but here’s a moral sermon anyway.” I hope that clears it up for you.

    At any rate – judging by this conversation you find me a strikingly loathsome specimen of humanity, so I don’t understand why you’re reading my blog. It seems masochistic.

  21. says

    Thank you very much for the explanation, that most definitely helps us to understand your criticism. Our apologies for overreacting.

    As for finding you a “strikingly loathsome specimen of humanity” that could not be farther from the truth. We don’t know you personally, but we’ve been a long-time lurker/reader and continue to enjoy reading here. If we loathed you we would not be here and we certainly would not attempt any discussion.

  22. Blanche Quizno says

    This whole thing reminds me of the scenario from that great Robin Williams film, “The Fisher King”, only without the killing spree and resultant insanity and lives ruined.

    Fortunately, that didn’t happen here. Just sayin’…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *