Man charged for viral ‘racist rant’ over aboriginal flag
A FORMER McDonald's franchisee has been charged with attempted criminal damage over a heated incident with a neighbour last year.
A video of the exchange was shared online in December last year and quickly went viral, making international headlines, after the Mildura couple argued with their Aboriginal neighbour.
Following the December incident, Karen Ridge and her partner, Robert Vigors, received widespread criticism for their comments to artist Robby Wirramanda.
"You're trying to rip my flag off; you're a drunken f***ing bum. You're a racist pig," Mr Wirramanda tells Ms Ridge as she pulls at an Aboriginal flag attached to his car.
"I'm not racist," Ms Ridge replies before saying, "Take this s**t down, it's a disgrace."
After his neighbour failed to pull the flag down, Mr Wirramanda tells Ms Ridge, "It's too strong for you, Karen."
Victoria Police confirmed to news.com.au today that a 64-year-old Mildura man had been charged with attempted criminal damage and summoned to appear at the Mildura Magistrates' Court on March 20 over the December incident.
The couple also question Mr Wirramanda's Aboriginality in the video.
Days after the video was shared online, McDonald's Australia released a statement announcing Mr Vigors had been removed from the company. He had previously been in charge of operating two McDonald's restaurants, in Mildura and Irymple in Victoria.
"McDonald's confirms the company has taken over the operation of the Mildura and Irymple restaurants, effective immediately, and Robert Vigors has left the system and is no longer involved," the company said in a statement.
"McDonald's will be engaging with its employees regarding the change in arrangements to ensure the ongoing operation of the restaurants."
Ms Ridge is also the owner of independent travel agency Mildura Travel and Cruise, a member of the Express Travel Group. Following the incident, Express Travel Group released a statement announcing it had severed ties with the business, according to the ABC.
Since the incident, the neighbours have engaged in an increasingly acrimonious relationship according to posts on social media, with the pair accusing one another of stealing pets and damaging property.
Mr Vigors and Ms Ridge were on the receiving end of widespread public backlash after the video went viral. Ms Ridge told media she'd even received death threats.
"There are always two sides to every story and there was a great deal of harassment before this event occurred," she told the Daily Mail last year.