Cops will be watched

September 5, 2009

On August 21, a new group, "Forcewatch", was launched to monitor the Queensland Police Service's contentious "move-on power" laws.

The 80-strong meeting took place in Brisbane's West End, a gathering area for homeless and Indigenous people. It is seen as the main area for unfair treatment at the hands of police. Participants watched a video about the US "Copwatch" program, which is well received even by police.

It was followed by Brisbane news footage showing excessive police force, including the use of a Taser gun on a 16-year-old and attacks on Indigenous people in parks.

Speakers included academics and lawyers from the pro bono Caxton Legal Service, who spoke about how the laws target the poor and disadvantaged. They explained the circumstances under which it is legal to act as witnesses to police actions, and legal requirements from first contact with police all the way through to arriving at a watch-house and appearing in court.

After a free supper provided by Food Not Bombs, Indigenous academic, activist and Socialist Alliance candidate Sam Watson said Boundary Street, where the meeting took place, was historically the boundary within which Indigenous people were not allowed after sunset, on pain of death.

Watson spoke of the politicisation of the police, and their targeting of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

Watson suggested senior police be informed of Forcewatch's existence, and its areas of operation, and advised that bright T-shirts or vests identifying Forcewatch members be worn.

The meeting agreed to start planning for groups of witnesses. It is planned to be in operation by the end of this year.

[Caxton Legal Service is at 28 Heal Street, Newfarm. The service would like to hear of any instances of police exceeding or misusing their powers. Phone (07) 3254 1811 or visit

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