By Paul Howes
SYDNEY — The recently formed United Secondary Students Union of NSW is calling on high school students across Sydney to walk out of school on October 22 to protest against the state government's "street safety" legislation.
The legislation, which gives the police greater powers to "deal" with "suspected" street gangs, is intended to combat the "youth crime wave" which the government says is spreading through Sydney. The powers are particularly alarming in light of the revelation two years ago that the ALP's policy document described gangs as "youths [with] their baseball caps turned back to front".
Under the new legislation, the police can harass and break up groups of three or more young people in a public place, and demand the names and addresses of suspected gang members. The right of police to interrogate suspected gang members will likely mean increased harassment of young people, especially those who are black or Asian.
Blaxland High student Bronwyn Powell from the USSU told Green Left Weekly, "This legislation is yet another attack on young people's rights. It avoids dealing with the real issues facing young people like poverty, homelessness, high unemployment and expensive education. The legislation will make young people prisoners in their own homes, or potential prisoners of police."
For more information about the walk-out and campaign, telephone the USSU on (02) 9690 1977.