Climate groups condemn police intimidation tactics

October 31, 2022
Climate protest in Sydney on September 24
A climate protest in Sydney, on September 24. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

An alliance of climate action and environment groups have condemned police intimidation of activists in the lead up to the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) on November 2.

The Climate Coalition Sydney revealed that 26 climate activists across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane were visited in their homes by police, including as late as 10pm. 

Police read out New South Wales’ draconian anti-protest laws and warned activists against protesting at IMARC.

The anti-protest laws, passed in April, make it a crime, punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a $22,000 fine, to even briefly obstruct a road or block the entrance to train stations, ports and public and private infrastructure. 

Marie Flood, from Sydney Knitting Nannas and Friends, said the police actions were an attempt to “scare us into silence”. 

“On the back of extreme and deadly floods that have resulted in two deaths and severe widespread damage, the police are attempting to stop us protesting the corporate culprits and their well-resourced plans to wreck the climate.

“We believe it's critical that the community knows about these police actions, because they need to stop,” Flood said. “We will keep on raising the alarm about attempts to scare us into silence and we will keep on protesting.”

Chris Black, from School Strike 4 Climate, was “accosted by police”, along with four others, after a protest against Whitehaven Coal’s expansion plans.

“A few hours after protesting Whitehaven's annual general meeting, while in a cafe, we were approached by police asking us about IMARC protests,” he said. “I am a minor and the police filmed me without adults giving any permission.”

Protests against IMARC in 2019 were met with aggressive police force, including capsicum spray, batons and horses. A class action is underway, alleging that police breached the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006 by using capsicum spray in a way that is coercive, with no immediate or proportional threat to officers or the public.

Despite police intimidation attempts, activists are not backing down. “We need to protest against IMARC,” Black said. “It is our future these polluters are planning to destroy.”

[Join the upcoming COP27 protest in Sydney.]

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