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Beat Up but Upbeat: Cops Pay Out on Assault at World Economic Forum, Melbourne 2000
rights, freedoms and repression |
Monday March 05, 2007 11:02 by Ciaron O'Reilly - Catholic Worker At Large!
At 1am this morning I was called by the Melbourne Sun Herald to comment on mainstream Australian media reporting a payout from the Victorian government to some of us assaulted at the World Economic Forum 2000 in Melbourne.
Reports refer to me as a "serial protestor" -even tho' I don't lobby protest, sign petitions,vote- and place me in the wrong place at the wrong time for when the police bashed me. I assured the journalist whatever financial payout the Victorian state gives me wil go to funding further nonviolent resistance to war and transnational theft!
This is part of a report I wrote at the time of the incident (Sept 11th. 2000) where 450 riot police attacked 40 seated activists on the Tueday morning.
At 7 a.m. on the Tuesday we joined 30 folks already in a sitting blockade position at that gate. These included two Green Members of Parliament from New Zealand. We had a very nonviolent vibe, plenty of singing, no verbal abuse etc. Fifteen minutes in, the riot squad armed with batons, ran out of the casino and assembled behind police ranks. Riot police [ombudsman's report later said 450 police] than ran into, over and through our block, many stopping to kick people in the face and groin with their heavy boots, many wielding batons as they went. I was struck in the head several times by batons and kicked in the face. We kept omming. Some folks were screaming in pain. One Lismore woman had her arm broken, one Melbourne man his wrist broken, an Irish guy scored a broken nose. There were head wounds, broken ribs, concussions, loss of blood, pissing blood and glasses smashed. On reflection we felt sitting made our block more resolute and less vulnerable to limb and facial injuries. Membership of an affinity group was a decisive factor in this act of resistance being an empowering rather than a demoralising experience.
Groups of riot police then began snatching people off the blockade. Four police grabbed me by my dreads, legs & arms and dragged me 40 metres on the bitumen away from the rest of the crowd. I was isolated on the far side of the tight riot squad formation that was claiming the intersection in preparation for rapid entry of delegate buses. The police then batoned me around the body and the head, throughout this experience I asked "Have I done anything illegal?", "Am I being charged?" They continued the bashing without any verbal response. They left me in a heap and retreated behind the shoulder to shoulder, batons extended riot formation. The buses were speeding into the casino through a gap in the formation using the far lane. I jumped up and ran across the road managing to take a standing star position in front of the last bus, which screeched to a halt in front of me. I was then jumped by four riot police who batoned me on the road and then dragged me onto the sidewalk against the wall and bashed me again. Interrupted by an ABC film crew they retreated behind the riot formation that had secured the intersection.
I collected myself. I walked up to a metre from the riot formation gave my captive audience a talk on the corrupt institution and wholesale theft they were defending, the conspiracy against the poor that is the WEF and the casino's role of laundering profits from the heroin trade. I told them history belonged to those who can endure not to those who can inflict, unfurled a banner in front of them and sat on the road in prayer.
Full report http://www.takver.com/history/s11.htm#ciaron
The following report is also worth a look, by the former Victorian Historian, Dr Bernard Barrett, 'Beating Up: A Report on Police Batons and the News Media at the World Economic Forum':
The pdf of The Ombudsman's report can be found by typing "Investigation of Police action at the World Economic Forum demonstrations September 2000" into google.
To read about what the police did to us on the Tuesday morning start reading at page 98.
from p 125:
"My assessment of the video and medical evidence suggests that by far the majority of damage and injury was caused by the movement of police through the seated protesters rather than by a direct and deliberate application of force in the form of baton strikes, baton jabs, punches and the like directed at protesters, although there were examples of the latter to which I have referred above. I understand, of course, that this will be a distinction of little interest to those people who were seated in Queensbridge Street, particularly those who were injured. It may also be a distinction of little interest to a court determining civil claims against police."
"As I have said above, there is video footage showing questionable acts by some police as they moved through the protesters and as they removed them from the intersection. These include what appear to be some examples of baton strikes, deliberate stomping of protesters, kicking of protesters and the dragging of protesters by their hair. "
The Obudsman clears the police of misconduct, saying it was all a mistake, the police did not know we were sitting, and pretty much blames us, saying that if we had been standing instead of sitting we would have been alright as the police charged through us.
He says the police based their actions on the previous day when people stood - yet, we sat the entire previous day!
He says that the police did not know we were sitting as the police logs show no reports of what was going on at the Queensbridge/Power St intersection. Yet he fails to realize that this is the same intersection as Queensbridge/Whiteman (Power is the continuation of Whiteman) where the police report says: "50 protestors sitting in rows." p 122.