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September 09, 2007

Here are those violent protesters then

Here's why you keep your police and politicians on a very tight rein.

Remember - they work for us.

What a farce.

September 9, 2007 | Permalink

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Although I have said most of this in a previous comment, I think it bears repeating here:

Michael Koukoullis and I went to the protest today and this is what we saw and experienced:

Entirely benign and peaceful people wishing to be able to express their opinion. Walls (literally, shoulder to shoulder) of police around Hyde Park.

Being sealed into Hyde Park. Old ladies with waking sticks begging to be allowed to cross the road to DJs so they could go to the toilet (all the loos in Hyde Park were shut). Families with crying babies asking to be allowed to go home to feed their children. A doctor who worked at Sydney Hospital wanting to get to work. All being denied the right to cross a road by riot police with tear gas cannisters and hoses on their back.

When I asked why we couldn't cross the road to get some food I was told "because I said so". Suddenly, with no evidence of noise or violence, a guy was being dragged by his hair into a police truck. At the same time, a couple of Apec delegates walked across the road with their sheepskin underblankets they'd just bought.

Everyone who was sealed into Hyde Park was filmed by the police. There were Human Rights observers (I think from the UN) on every corner writing down every conversation that took place with the police.

When I walked in the "No War" protest, there were no riot police. There were no water cannons or tear gas cannisters. There was no need for Human Rights observers. And there was no violence. And we went to war to make us safer? I see no evidence of that. Eddie Meyer of Channel 10 news was visibly shaken and upset by the police intimidation, and was saying so to members of the public. When the media is shaken, it's really time to notice.

Then we walked down to Circular Quay, around kilometres of steel and concrete walls. We went to a police car to ask which way was open. They were watching Lethal Weapon on a portable DVD player, they were so bored. This is our tax money! We walked past a vehicle inspection point which was worse than anything I ever saw at Checkpoint Charlie. Circular Quay was like East Berlin. You couldn't see the harbour because of the walls.

I have travelled the world, including to some scary places, and I have never seen anything like this. And yet, the Chaser guys can get through dressed liked Osam Bin Laden with passes that say "Insecurity" because they look like a motorcade. They were only found out because they dobbed themselves in.

It's important not to run out of town or say "oh this is just silly". We cannot look at this as an Olympic-style unofficial week off.It is necessary for people to say "I am a witness". It is a blatant and frightening elimination of our civil liberties.

And for what? So Johnny Howard doesn't lose face, and so his kids get to work for Halliburton. Do you think the Apce delegates enjoyed their time in this "thriving" (ie totally empty and sealed off) metropolis?

Posted by: Deb Lander | Sep 9, 2007 12:02:00 PM

I meant to add, go to Michael Koukoullis' flickr page to see some very scary photos.

Posted by: Deb Lander | Sep 9, 2007 12:05:12 PM

"When all you've got is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."

No offence to any individual police, but history says that if you give them more powers then the day will come when the want to use it.

I note that the Police Commissioner has defended his officers saying "...we sent the message and we've sent it for a long time now that we were going to be very, very firm." [ABC website] Why exactly? It sounds like being 'firm' for the sake of being 'firm'.

Increasingly, 'security' is being used as an excuse for simply stopping things we don't like, which is why I can only see an increase in the number of 'threats' that make sure we are scared enough to allow the authorities to do these things.

That's why we need The Chaser crew. By taking the p*ss out of these things, it shows everyone (including the whole world now) how silly it all is.

Finally, the Internet might be part of the solution. Sure, the police can film people engaging in these protests, but the protesters can too and, what's more, get them out on the Internet instantly to show what's happening.

PS. How do I find the Flickr page with photos?

Posted by: Anura | Sep 9, 2007 3:15:38 PM

Sorry, my link coding obviously didn't work...it's: www.flickr.com/photos/webraconteur/

There are a lot of other photos too, just search on flickr for photos tagged with Apec 2007.

Posted by: Deb Lander | Sep 9, 2007 3:21:46 PM

Welcome to our age of freedom, our brave new world.

I just hope people remember the actions of the Howard Govt come Election day. All this for the appearance of safety. Or maybe it was warranted, isn't Sydney one of the most dangerous cities on Earth (I think not).

Posted by: Gary Barber | Sep 9, 2007 6:14:15 PM

The baseball bats are ready Gary :-)

(to non australians, far too complicated to explain - google "keating + baseball bats")

j

Posted by: John Allsopp | Sep 9, 2007 6:18:14 PM

We are likely to see more of this style of security in Australia now that the Government has gotten away with it under the auspices of APEC.

Again just another example of how little by little our freedom and liberties are being eroded by precedent.

As a nation we are rather apathetic when it comes to these matters. Not entirely sure why.

As a knowledgeable friend of mine stated, "The Nazis didn't start gassing people straight away". We can learn a lot from historical parallels.

Posted by: Michael Koukoullis | Sep 9, 2007 11:41:26 PM

Hi Michael,

I am very heartened by the Herald today publishing the photo of 16 police officers without ID at the rally. I've never seen that level of criticism of the police. Couple that with even the conservative 9 network showing footage of police, let's call it what it is, brutality, and I wonder whether we don't have some cause for hope.

Posted by: John Allsopp | Sep 10, 2007 7:19:43 AM

The problem is, by criticising the police, like the journalists, we are blaming the wrong people (to a certain degree, obviously everyone is responsible for their behaviour). They are only following the orders of their masters - the top brass of the police force, etc. who are clearly being made to toe the Government line.

When you look at the enormous public personal and professional vilification of those who dare to speak out against the government, by members of the Government, and helped all the way by their cronies, the media owners (which is why I say don't always blame the journos), I can understand why it is hard for those under to be braver. Everyone needs to earn a living and has families to support.

I'm not saying it's right, just put the blame where it's actually needed.

Posted by: Deb Lander | Sep 10, 2007 9:32:03 AM

I felt what they are fighting for. I guess in some way they want to prove something on their belief.

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