Two charged over racist abuse of NRL star
Two men on the NSW Mid North Coast have been charged after allegedly sending Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell racially abusive social media messages.
Detectives from the Fixated Persons Investigation Unit charged the 22-year-old Taree man and 25-year-old Luke Munmorah man today, after the Engagement and Hate Crime Unit and the Fixated Persons Investigation Unit launched inquiries earlier this week.
The NRL Integrity Unit had reported that one of its players had received numerous offensive and threatening social media messages - some of which were racially charged, NSW Police said in a statement on Friday.
The Daily Telegraph revealed the player was Mitchell, an Indigenous man.
Following "extensive inquiries", the two offenders were arrested today, with police seizing electronic devices, which will undergo forensic examination.
The pair were taken to local police stations and each charged with use carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence.
Both men were granted strict conditional bail, with the younger man due to appear at Taree Local Court on Tuesday, May 18 and the older man due to appear at Wyong Local Court on Wednesday, May 12.
It's not the first time the 23-year-old fullback has been the target of derogatory messages from strangers on social media, telling The Daily Telegraphlast year he had considered quitting the NRL after being bombarded with disgraceful messages in 2019.
Among the messages was a picture of a jerry can, with the words, "Found a photo of your best mate thought you might want it?"
"Honestly, I was that close to giving up," he told the publication.
"I thought, why don't I just go get a nine-to-five job and not be in the spotlight?"
Comparing the situation to AFL legend Adam Goodes, who experienced a barrage of relentless abuse that eventually led to his retirement, Mitchell said "there's only so much a player can take before it's enough".
"For him to stand up for what he believes in, and then get booed off, is very disappointing, and he had no choice. It affected his ability to play," he said.
"Mental health is a major issue in the world at the moment, and Indigenous men have the highest suicide rate in the world, so that's crazy.
"I've had my demons and dark times with all this racism stuff. There's only so much a person can take before enough is enough.
"I thought if I give up now, I'm giving these people what they want - there are a lot of people who want me to fail, and I'm not the type of person to give up."
Mitchell said he hoped to change the treatment of Indigenous players, saying we all need to "embrace each other".
"I just want to be the best me I can be, be proud of who I am, and have no regrets," he said.
"I want to play a role for black fellas and non-Indigenous people to unite and play the game we love and move forward."
Originally published as Two charged over racist abuse of NRL star