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Beat Up but Upbeat: Cops Pay Out on Assault at World Economic Forum, Melbourne 2000

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Monday March 05, 2007 11:02author by Ciaron O'Reilly - Catholic Workerauthor address At Large! Report this post to the editors

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.,,21322057-661,....html,20867,2132....html

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

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.

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author by Rentonpublication date Mon Mar 05, 2007 15:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As always, Mr. O' Reilly is a source of hope and inspiration. Keep up the good work.

author by Ciaronpublication date Tue Mar 06, 2007 09:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For some reason the right wing press in Melbourne have chosen me as the poster boy for thepost S11 settlement lynch mob. In todays printed edition of the Sun Herald. My photograph is placed next to the one of the injured police officer featured on the following web version of the article......,21985,21331564....html

The article once again refers to me as a "serial protester", it must have been a newspeak toss up between this term and "prosterphile" for the max effect! The article is once again inaccurate in its detail. I was batoned numerous time in three different locations in the space of 10 minutes not "three times in 10 minutes". I did not "mock the Victorian police", I criticised the Labor Party Bracks government and reassured them that their use of violence against me on Sept 12th. 2000 has not diminished my commitment to struggle for peace and justice through nonviolent resistance. In terms of the "charging of police" this was in specific reference to the police officers who ran over a woman activist and then left the scene of their "accident". I had told the journalist that having experienced prison I didn't think it was place for anyone even the police who assaulted me. Ideally, I would prefer some restorative justice process with the police officers who brutalised myself and others.

I did not witness any police officers being assaulted or injured. As stated before it was a decentralised blockade with about 6-8 entry points and the one we were running had a "sit don't stand, sing don't chant and ommm don't verbally abuse" policy we also decamped at nightfall.I can safely say no officers were assaulted or injured at our gate during the day. It did not happen. It's interesting that they chose this gate to unleash the most cordinated police violence of the 3 days.

My advice to the Victorian Police is to clarify where they stand on democratic principles of free expression, due process and then refuse to carry out orders that brutalise the community they are supposed to be serving.

The events discussed happened a year to the day before S11 NYC much has changed for the worse since that date - in terms of the loss of civil liberties and the retreat of folks from their citizenship. As an unpopular war escalates and expands there is little sign of resistance to it. For those of us who continue to resist we face the cyncism, demonisation and attempts to marginalis as expressed in this Sun Herald article.

Related Link:,21985,21331564-661,00.html
author by redjade - {one of Ciaron's Paparazzi from the past}publication date Tue Mar 06, 2007 17:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

redjade note: these photos are not my own

Sept 11th. 2000 (click on image for larger version)
Sept 11th. 2000 (click on image for larger version)

Sept 11th. 2000 (click on image for larger version)
Sept 11th. 2000 (click on image for larger version)

author by redjade - {one of Ciaron's Paparazzi from the past}publication date Tue Mar 06, 2007 17:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

redjade note: this scan is not my own

Click image for full sized version
Click image for full sized version

Click image for printable text of article
Click image for printable text of article

author by 90degreespublication date Tue Mar 06, 2007 17:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It may look better this way


author by Michellepublication date Tue Mar 06, 2007 22:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Wait a minute - what's going on here? Did I miss a meeting? Since when do anarchists use the capitalist courts like this?! What's next - a lawsuit over inappropriate use of the (A) symbol or something?!

author by Ciaronpublication date Wed Mar 07, 2007 09:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes Michelle, you've probably missed a lot of meetings, direct action and the police consequences of undertaking such. The Bill Hicks quote you use could be instructive. Hicks was a good liberal and there is a big difference between the best of liberal democratic society and facism. What we experienced in terms of police tactics in Melbourne 2000 was facism. There was no due process - there were baton charges rather than charges one could face in court. 15 arrests in three days of blockading with hundreds of injuries.

The self identifying anarchist movement was pretty useless in Melbourne. They were either doing as you do here providing the pc critique from on high of the failings of those of us who were confronting the state before walking off in a self satisfied huff. or the youngsters were playing more hipper than thou blac bloc dress up games. This contrasted with the authoritarian left who were wrestling over a leadership (we ignored) the correct slogans etc. One Trot group who wish to provoke the cops as much as possible believing police violence radicalises people and one Trot group who wanted everyone to retreat into a nonconfrontational rally on a platform of course they controlled. The social democrat Labor Party were of course running the state and made the phone call to the Trade Union bureaucrats to smash what had been on the first and most crucial day a successful blocakade....getting the casino staff back in to service the WEF.

There were grassroots (direct democrats) groups doing good stuff...first aid, entertaining the troops at the blockade points, alternative media outreach, even the Stalinists ran a free cup of tea and coffeee service. The follow up for those arrested or hospitalised was poor. A game plan to hold the cops to account non-existant (except for a friend of mine who pied Premier Bracks a few weeks later, check out his prison reflections "Cream and Punishment"). So we were left with little option to walk away and provide no opposition to the rapid evolution of the Victorian Police into a facist militarised entity or hitch a ride on the Slater and Gordon road train. You can see by the right wing response the state is pretty disappointed by the result. When you enter into nonviolent resistance to the state you will quickly realise the importance of good liberals (whether they be celebrities or lawyers) running interference for you. In real terms this becomes more significant to the radical (as they confront police violence and prison) than political correctness and whoever should be inhavbitating those right-on subcultures at any given time.

If you check out the links to the Herald Sun article you will see a lot of accompanying comments that are facist....the repeated proposals to use guns on us rather than batons next time. Anarchists should know the difference between liberal democracy and facism, they should know that the best way of defending liberal democratic notions and principals like jury trials, free speech is by using them. Which could lead us on to a discussion about the rise and fall of free speech corner in Temple Bar but that's another story.

author by Leftwritespublication date Fri Mar 09, 2007 20:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Sun Herald article ran this week juxtaposing a photograph of activist Ciaron O'Reilly and a battered policeman implies.......
1) O'Reilly had something to do with the cop's condition
2) O'Reilly has something to do with the denial of worker's compensation to the cop
3) The cops condition had something to do with the S11 protest
....all these implications are false, see link for further analysis.

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