EXCLUSIVE: A woman who mocks the poor and thought the elderly man near the escalators was in the way, so called the police. A middle-aged man who works for a global management consulting firm and self-identifies as “politically incorrect” but nevertheless believed there was a “crazy Asian guy” nearby, and so he wrote about it to police over social media.
These are the two Sydney idiots who unwittingly helped engineer a PR disaster for NSW Police last week after video captured the very moment three officers moved in to brutally manhandle the so-called threat these good samaritans had identified: septuagenarian and local social media icon – the elderly, sign-carrying, pun-making activist, Danny Lim.
Danny Lim is a 74-year-old Sydney icon much-loved across the city and social media for his zany sandwich-board signs as well as his little best buddy – doge Smarty – that’s with him everywhere he goes.
His role as the city’s ‘Smile’ guy is a sort of rehabilitation effort on Mr Lim’s part. Perhaps that’s why he plays it with such aplomb.
For you see, the retired electrical technician who has lived in Australia since he was 19-years-old, had got himself caught up in the slimy game of local politics a decade back.
It has to be said that it was a more than memorable stint.
It started in 2008 with Lim forcing the jobs of the mayor and deputy mayor to be pulled from a lolly jar.
And, which ended with him leaving Strathfield Council just two years later, but not before he had lodged a motion recommending that the council purchase a vibrator for [then-Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge] to encourage her “to stop screwing with the people of Strathfield and screw her self instead”. Lim is a longtime resident of the inner-west suburb while Judge was its long-serving local member.
In early 2010, Lim was also found to have sworn at council staff as well as other councillors, with one worker claiming to have felt “intimidated” and “belittled” by the councillor’s errant behaviour and colourful language.
Funnily enough, Lim had initially got himself elected onto council in 2008 after spending a few years standing outside the offices of Strathfield Council while holding protest signs highlighting its widespread corruption.
It could be said that over the last decade, Lim has definitely mellowed out.
Along with his usual dose of gonzo political activism and a run for the Senate in 2016, he’s pretty much all “peace be with u” now and pretty stoked to get a mention promoting his social media presence like his Facebook page, Danny’s Page. The page prominently features Smarty. They have over 20,000 fans there.
Lim came to further prominence following a highly publicised trial in 2015 on whether one of his signs about former Prime Minister Tony Abbott constituted offensive behaviour.
The sign in question had read: “PEACE SMILE PEOPLE CAN CHANGE TONY YOU C—. LIAR, HEARTLESS, CRUEL. PEACE BE WITH YOU.”
The letter “U” was represented by an upside-down “A”, while the word included an apostrophe as if it was the word ‘can’t’.
Lim was initially found guilty and was forced to pay a $500 fine.
However, he appealed the decision, and in August 2017 a NSW District Court judge quashed the conviction.
The judge found Lim had demonstrated the “reasonable excuse” defence, and that his sign holding was a legitimate form of political commentary.
So it came as a shock to many across the city late last week when Lim was arrested last Friday (January 11) just after 9.20am during the busy morning peak hour at Exchange Place in Barangaroo.
Lim was left screaming and pleading for help as police manhandled him, took away his sign, and his dog Smarty too. The three officers eventually cuffed Lim. He was then charged with offensive behaviour.
The sign he was holding at the time of his arrest reads: “SMILE CVN’T! WHY CVN’T?”
Photos of his battered body posted onto social media later that day by prominent lawyer, Chris Murphy, show cuts and bruises on Lim’s hands and arms.
Lim is now being represented by Murphy’s criminal law firm.
The moment of his brutal arrest so happened to be captured on a mobile phone video by a passerby before being posted on Facebook.
The witness, Niki Antsiss, attached the below caption to her video post:
This is absolutely disgusting. Every week this sweet old man stands at Barangaroo with a funny sign and his little dog trying to make people smile. It works every time, I genuinely start my day happy. Today I saw 3 police officers brutally rip his sign from his back and arrest him while he was screaming for them to not take his sign. He did nothing wrong! 1 police officer remained and dragged the poor scared little dog away and at least 40 people followed him telling them how appalled they were at what they had just witnessed.”
Several witnesses are reported to have made formal complaints to NSW Police about the use of force involved in the incident with Mr Lim. It has been reported that up to 40 bystanders confronted police at the scene about their treatment of the well-known activist.
Over the weekend, about 500 people turned up at a snap protest outside a police station in support of Lim. Media reports claim only 150 people came to support Lim, but the true number was much greater as vision for the protest attests to.
Lim is now preparing to take legal action against the police over his treatment.
But why did police ever believe Lim was engaging in some kind of criminal conduct?
Because, it seems, at least two members of the public who walked past him that day simply didn’t like the look of him.
* * * * *
At 9.15am last Friday morning it so happened that an IT professional employed by the global management consulting firm, Accenture, used Twitter to fire off a message.
It was addressed to NSW Police as well as the bureaucratic department tasked with looking after a prime bit of expensive waterfront smack bang in the CBD.
“@Barangaroo crazy Asian guy with placard is at the bottom of the escalators at Barangaroo outside DJ’s. His placard has word play of expletives on it. @nswpolice,” the man posted on Twitter.
On his Twitter profile, the balding middle-aged man states he is an “IT Professional, politically incorrect at times. Because I cant stand the BS. Now in HD. My content, my opinions.”
The man’s Twitter account however was deleted later that afternoon after media reports spread of Lim’s arrest.
He had though spent some time arguing with other Twitter users who were horrified by his supposed part in setting police upon the elderly, sign-holding activist.
“It’s not racism if he is “crazy” and also happens to be Asian. I don’t know his name, nor do I want to,” the male IT worker wrote.
“Open to debate if he’s “crazy”. Its Racism if I said “All Asians are crazy”. Know the difference. He is deliberately trying to be provocate by skirting with offensive text.”
It soon then turned out that another ‘good samaritan’ was also likely involved in the whole ugly debacle.
This time, it was a blonde beauty therapist. She thought Lim was in the way, looked like a “leech” on the system and was apparently of poor hygiene. Of course a bloke is gonna smell a bit holding signs at public places in the humidity of a Sydney summer.
Instead of Twitter, it was Facebook that was this woman’s social media weapon of choice.
“I’m feeling guilty reading the comments,” the woman posted on Facebook.
“I was there today and I called the police. The guy was in the way when I was getting off the escalator. I’m sure everyone else would’ve done the same, he was disturbing to look at and I felt unsafe. Don’t judge me.”
Another person then responded to the woman:
“I don’t know what happened in the incident you’re describing but your comment above about leech on the system, smelt bad etc is poor.”
Showing a shocking lack of humility and empathy, the woman blithely responded:
“No the guy with the sign is poor,” she posted. “I’m very well off.”
Another Facebook user then blasted the woman for her troubling attitude to those seemingly less fortunate.
“Disturbing to look at,” one person wrote to the beauty therapist. “Maybe people feel the same about you. Disgrace.”
The woman has since changed her details on Facebook, including her profile name.
True Crime News Weekly has approached Lim for a comment in response to this story.