Occupy Australia takes off -- thousands take to the streets
Police action at Occupy Melbourne a ‘huge blunder’, says Bandt
Occupy Melbourne calls for investigation into police brutality
Occupy Sydney statement: 'Join us, we are all the 99%'
Update -- 3.30pm: Further details of the police brutality in Melbourne in the violent attack on Occupy Melbourme on October 21 are emerging.
Erin Buckle, a spokeperson for Occupy Melbourne legal support, told Green Left Weekly: "Police pepper sprayed children, kicked men in the groin and punched people in the back of the head.
"An elderly woman with a walking stick was knocked over by a line of riot police, peaceful protestors were walked over by horses and plenty of passersby walking past were assaulted by police."
Buckley said: "We want people to contact the legal team if any of these things have happened to you. If you have been assaulted or witnessed an assault, if you have been arrested, or if any property has been taken by the City of Melbourne or the police, then contact us on 0434 126 515."
Buckley continued: "We are asking that people who have been injured go to a medical professional immediately and document their physical and mental injuries. Take photos of your injuries, and search for youtube evidence of the attack that took place on you. Bring all of that into us.
"We are collating information on arrests and injuries sustained by the police. We know to date that 95 people were arrested without charge. We also know that one or two people have been charged, but we cannot confirm with what. There are at least 50 incidences of police brutality."
She said:"We are looking at possible legal options. There are a number of legal people helping with this, including Melbourne lawyer Rob Starry.
"This is a huge project and we are asking people to email email@example.com with donations. We need computers, stationary, paper, document boxes, a printer/photocopier and and people to help set up a webpage and network the computers we already have."
Also, Occupy Sydney held its press conference at 1pm. Pip Hinman told Green Left there was a big turnout by the media. Susan Price, Tim Davis Frank and Mark Goudkamp spoke from Occupy Sydney and Jim Casey secretary of the NSW firefighters union address the media.
Update -- 10.30am: Viv Miley, a participant in Occupy Sydney at the camp at the time police attacked at at 5am, told Green Left Weekly the police moved in and told people they had to move immediately or would be arrested. He said groups of occupiers linked arms and began chanting, before police began violently dragging people off.
“One woman was screaming 'ow my wrist' in intense pain for a long time, demanding medical attention.”
Miley said some of the occupiers were taken off to a police station, but others were issued with notices and told to leave the area. Occupiers then gathered at Hyde Park for an emergency meeting to discuss further steps.
A press conference has been called by Occupy Sydney for 1pm, Miley said.
An emergency meeting has been called today for 5pm at UTS.
Update -- October 23: NSW police moved in at about 5am this morning to violently evict Occupy Sydney campers in Martin Place. The 80-100 occupiers were woken from their sleep and forcibly evicted with reports of more than 50 arrests. Police took people's possessions away.
The police attack came after a peaceful rally at midday yesterday involving up to 1000 people -- amid heavy police presence including riot police and police horses and dogs. The rally heard from speakers discussing the impact of corporate profiteering and inequality, including economist Steven Keen, MUA assistant national assistance Warren Smith, Wollongong campaigner against coal seam gas mining Jess Moore and general manager of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association Peter Somerville (who spoke on the dispute by Qantas workers seeking a fair wage deal).
Occupy Sydney has called for an emergency meeting to discuss the next steps at 5pm today at UTS in Ultimo.
ABC.net.au quoted occupiers condemning the police violence. One said: "Seeing people who have been peaceful for eight days, crying and screaming in pain after they were woken up out of their sleep -- it doesn't make any sense,"
Another said: "I screamed, I was saying 'release the handcuffs, loosen the handcuffs my arm is going to break' - I said it over and over."
Occupy Sydney had already voted to call another rally at Martin Place for Saturday, October 29, as part of global rallies by the Occupy movement in support of a
The attack on Occupy Sydney came after supporters of Occupy Melbourne took to the streets for a peaceful march through Melbourne's CBD on day after police violently smashed their camp at City Square. Protesters marched peacefully, despite a huge police presence, from Federation Square to Victorian Trades Hall, where between 1000-2000 people took part in a general assembly. The assembly voted to try and occupy the Treasury Gardens in a week's time.
Update -- 6pm: Occupy Melbourne begins to gather in Treasury Gardens.
Update -- 4.15pm: Occupy Melbourne has voted at its general assembly outside Trade Hall to seek to occupy Treasury Gardens in a week's time * . @OccupyMELBOURNE tweeted: "Treasury Place is the new home of #occupymelbourne pending permission from traditional owners - the wurundjeri people."
(* initially reported this would happen tonight, in a week's time to give those who wish to take part more time to prepare)
Meanwhile, Occupy Sydney has a released its first statement, adopted unanimously at the rally in Martin Place today. The statements notes: "The resistance around the world against corrupt governments and the devastating effects of the global financial crisis has exposed the realities of the world in which we live.
"We live in a world where we produce a surplus of food and yet millions of children starve."
It concludes: "We extend our hand and invite you to join us, because we all are the 99%."
Despite the heavy police build up at Occupy Sydney, there are no reports there has been any police attack. Hopefully, the heavy presence -- including police horses and dogs, is simply an attempt to intimidate the occupiers.
The rally today was addressed by Peter Somerville, the general manager of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association. Qantas engineers are involved in a protracted industrial dispute with the airline's management, which is seeking to deny employees a decent wage deal.
Somerville noted this is despite the fact Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce had received a 71% rise as his union sought a three per cent annual wage rise for its members. He condemned Qantas management's job cuts.
Update -- 3pm: Occupy Melbourne participants are discussing future plans, including possible plans for a new occupation. It has been reported that Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, who ordered yesterday's violent eviction from City Square, said he would immediately issue eviction orders for any new occupation.
Also, in Sydney about 700 people have rallied at the site of Occupy Sydney in Martin Place. there is a heavy police presence, including reports of police dogs.
Peter Boyle told Green Left Weekly there was a "big police build-up with several ambulances on hand and lots of cops, horses and dogs. Eminent eviction attempt for Occupy Sydney?"
However, the protest has so far taken place peacefully with a range of speakers -- including Maritime Union of Australia nationasal assistant secretary Warren Smith and Wollongong campaigner against coal seam gas Jess Moore.
Update -- 1.53pm: An Occupy Melbourne supporter posted this photo of police moving up Swanston Street today to "police" the march.
The photographer says: "The police have fenced off city square and had cops and dogs inside. So much for needing to free the space up for public use and so the businesses can get custom.
"People are currently at trades hall having a general assembly discussing next steps."
"Asher_Wolf" also tweeted: "Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) has just offered free tickets to his show to all of the original occupiers #OccupyMelbourne #OWS"
Biafra, former lead singer of punk band Dead Kennedys, is in Melbourne to perform his spoken word show. Biafra and Melbourne band Blue King Brown’s Natalie Pa’apa’a turned out for the Occupy Melbourne protest on October 20 to show their “solidarity and support”.
Update -- 12.40pm, October 22: Occupy Melbourne supporters are peacefully marching from Federation Square to Trades Hall, despite rain, to hold further discussions on the movement.
"Asher_Wolf" tweeted: "This march feels like it's picking up hundreds of ppl every second."
Occupy Melbourne has released a call for an investigation into the police violence yesterday. The level of outrage over police actions is so great that even the Rupert Murdoch-owned Australian, no friend of the Occupy movement, editorialised today against the police brutality. the editorial criticised the politics of Occupy Melbourne, but defend the right to protest.
Rally October 22: The Occupy Melbourne general assembly at Victorian Trades Hall in Friday evening voted to call a demonstration at Federation Square 12pm the next day. The protest will march to City Square, where occupiers were violently evicted.
Sue Bolton told Green Left Weekly that Victorian Trades Hall has voted to endorse Occupy Melbourne.
Update -- 6.15: Ben Courtice has just told 3CR that protesters were now at Trades Hall, but were still being harassed by the police -- who had "almost followed protesters into Trades Hall".
Courtice said police had kettled protesters on the lawn outside Trades Hall, before protesters went around the back, but police are still blocking the streets out the front.
Courtice said: "Even after protesters agreed to move to Trades Hall -- leaving Swanston Street -- the police have continued to arrest protesters."
Courtice said protesters used the "human mic" system make the decision to leave Swanston Street and go to Trades Hall (whereby the crowd repeats a speaker so everyone can hear them).
"There is a good amount of energy. A lot of people have joined in when they heard what is going on. I am concerned for those locked up -- we haven't heard a whole lot.
"The whole atmosphere is upbeat, but pretty surreal."
Courtice said: "Police were very aggressive when pushed people up Swanston Street. If people fell over, they got dragged away, I saw one person punched before being dragged away ...
"The protesters have been very calm and peaceful. We decided to move slowly when the police pushed us, and this is what we have done. People have had their mobile phones out filming the police and chanting 'The whole world is watching'."
He said there were plans for a rally at 12pm tomorrow at Federation Square to "retake the streets" -- but this will be a decision of the general assembly.
Courtice said it was a "big victory" that "so many people came out against neoliberialsm". He said: "That they need such a disproportionate show of force is a blunder on their part."
He encouraged people to go to the general assembly, explaining despite the heavy police presence outside, people "can still walk right into Trades Hall".
Courtice said: "It is impressive that people stood their ground the whole day."
Update -- 6.05 A participant in Occupy Melbourne told Green Left there "are now many hundreds around Victorian Trades Hall, with police surrounding". Protesters were greeted by trade unions and will hold a general assembly at VTH tonight.
Update -- 5.50: Protesters are marching towards Victorian Trades Hall, corner Lygon and Victoria streets, where an Occupy Melbourne general assembly is scheduled for 7pm in the car park.
Ben Courtice, a participant in Occupy Melbourne, told Green Left Weekly that there were still 300-400 protesters on Swanston Street, but the police were slowly pushing everyone towards Trades Hall.
Courtice said that at least 60 people had been arrested so far -- but that this was a conservative estimate. He said there were members of the Electrical Trades Union and Union Solidarity on the streets with protesters -- joining the members of the CFMEU and MUA who went down to support the camp earlier in the day when police were moving to smash it up.
Update 5.15pm: #OccupyMelb is trending on Twitter, most comments oppose to the police attack. Even those who say they don't agree, or are not sure, whether they agree with the protests express outrage. The tone is summed up by "Wax_Walker", who commented: "I hear the axis of evil have a new opening for a brutal dictator. Can i recommend @tedbaillieu and #RobertDoyle for the role. #occupymelb"
Update -- 3.50: Jacob from Occupy Melbourne has just told 3CR that people remain on the streets in Melbourne's CDB despite the extreme police violence. Jacob said: "It is now 4 o clock in the afternoon and all they have managed to do is move us two blocks down the street."
He called on supporters to come down to the protest in defiance of the police. He repeated the call for supporters of Occupy Melbourne to go to the CBD for a 5pm demonstration, and to gather at State Library.
"People are feeling empowered... we are winning this. I urge people to get to the State Library [for 5pm]... Don't just watch the news, be the news!"
Update -- 3.35: 3CR just spoke to a legal representative, Leanne, on the violent police smashing of the Occupy Melbourne camp at City Square. Leanne said it was a shock to see "this kind of brute force happening today against a group of people sitting around discussion our society. It is over the top and shocking."
She said people, young people in particular, have been traumatised by the actions the police. She said she had been involved in demonstrations for more than 25 years, but "never in my life seen that level of police violence". She said there were "horses, dogs, riot gear, pepper spray. People being dragged, thrown, kicked and punched."
She said there were a range of people are trying to help those who have been hurt or arrested.
A report from Occupy Melbourne said police destroyed all tents and equipment of the camp.
Herald Sun video report on police attack.
Photos of police tearing down the Occupy Melbourne camp.
Update -- 2.45 3CR is reporting that a member of its legal team has told them of severe police brutality against Occupy Melbourne participants. There are reports at police assaults, including bashings and repeated kicks to the genitals. Passerbuyers have been shocked by the police actions and protesters are still kettled (penned in) by police. Some of those arrested have been left in police vans for hours on end. Swanston Street has been blocked by police.
Rachel Evans told Green left Weekly that police have bashed a number of protesters and that a number of those arrested have been taken to a police station a far way out of the CDB, then released without charge. She said many were returning to the protest. Check www.occupymelbourne.org for more information, -- as well as further action on the streets of Melbourne tomorrow, with possible reoccupation of a venue in the CDB -- and follow @OccupyMelbourne on Twitter.
Update -- 2.05pm: Rachel Evans, a participant in Occupy Melbourne, told Green Left Weekly: "#occupymelbourne is holding the corner of Collins and Swanston Street, but the cops coming in for another attack.
She said anyone in Melbourne who supports the protests and opposes the police brutality should get there if they can to offer support: "Get down there all! Protect the 99%."
3CR said protesters are kettled between Little Collins Street and Town Hall. There are police dogs and police are dragging protesters off one by one.
Reporting live from the scene, 3CR says: "the only violence here today has been from the police."
A rally has been called for 5pm TODAY at the City Square, corner of Swanston and Collins streets.
Update -- 1.55pm: #occupymelbourne twitter feed includes a number of reports of "unnecessary violence" by police.
"Sexenheimer" says: "Saw people dragged out of Square being dumped into horse manure on the road."
"Allisonkillkenny" says: "Hands trembling. Incredible, unnecessary violence from police."
"Mikestuchbery" says: "I'm astounded that police would destroy community that was serving food to homeless, had a free school & a library."
"Shibbyxxx" says: "earlier protesters were picking up rubbish in the camp. now police are emptying food scraps on the ground."
1.40pm: After being evicted from City Square, Occupy Melbourne protesters have been occupying nearby streets on intersection of Collins and Swanston streets. 3CR live report says that in last ten minutes police have begun pushing protesters off the streets. However, they merely push protesters from one side of the street to another. Police have shut down some key streets, other streets are being occupied by protesters and officer workers on their lunch breaks.
3CR says the numbers of the streets continue to build as more supporters of Occupy Melbourne arrive. Trams are still not running.
A police officer rides horse over protester.
Update -- 1.15pm: 3CR are reporting that occupiers at City Square have been evicted. However, people are still occupying the streets nearby. About 300 people occupying the intersection. Police are arresting people, including conflict resolution people from the occupation. Dozens of police said to be on the streets. Tram drivers have been instructed by their union not to drive on occupied streets as it is a health and safety issue. Occupiers say "this is just the beginning" and protesters will be back. A rally to "re-occupy" City Square is scheduled for 5pm TODAY.
See photo via Twitter of a police officer taking part in the eviction without their name badge.
Police arrest occupiers at Occupy Melbourne.
Update -- 11.30am: There are reports members of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union are joining those protesting the police blockade and attack on Occupy Melbourne and members of the Maritime Union of Australia are on their way. One report says thousands of people are now occupying the streets surrounding Occupy Melbourne camp in support of the occupation as police try and evict the 200 people there. There are also reports police are sending horses in against the peaceful protesters are being used.
A rally has been called for 5pm, Friday October 21 at City Square, the site of the occupation.
* * *
October 21 -- 10am: Police have surrounded the Occupy Melbourne camp at City Square in attempt to close down the camp that has been protesting corporate greed as part of the global Occupy movement since October 15.
At 10.30am on Friday, October 21, Sue Bolton, a participant in the occupation, told Green Left Weekly: "Police are trying to close down the camp. There are 200 occupiers linking arms and refusing to move. There are hundreds of police who have surrounded the camp with barricades, while about 500 supporters of the occupation are rallying outside."
Bolton said police have already grabbed and removed some of the occupiers, but were yet to move in against the whole camp. She said spirits were high and people were determined to stay.
Occupiers were chanting "The people united will never be defeated", "Whose camp? Our camp!, Whose streets? Our streets!", "We are Occupy Melbourne, we are the 99%", and "Always was, always will be Aboriginal land".
There are reports police are not wearing their identification badges and people taking photos of them without badges are being arrested.
On hearing of the attack, the outreach working group from Occupy Sydney, which has camped in Martin Place since October 15, sent an immediate message of solidarity to the Melbourne occupiers and protest against the police attack.
The message read: "#OccupySydney supports unconditionally #OccupyMelbourne's right to demonstrate for a better future. We call on the police to respect the rights of the 99% before pandering to corporate interests.
"The global occupation movement will not end until a just and compassionate world without corruption is realised.
A rally has been called in Melbourne in support of the occupation and against the police attack for 5pm Friday, October 21 at City Square, cnr Swanston & Collins Streets. See the Facebook group.
Bolton said the camp has been under threat since Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle told the media on October 19 that the protesters have “made their point and now they should leave” or else eviction was likely to occur.
Over the past couple of days, Bolton said the media had been scouring the nearby businesses and cafes to find owners who are prepared to say that the protest is causing damage to their business.
Occupy Melbourne has spoken to some of the same business owners who say that their quotes have been taken out of context and that the media has been badgering different staff members and owners until the media gets the quote it wants.
Despite having had no problems with police in the previous days, the police changed tactics on October 19.
Bolton said on October 19, Occupy Melbourne linked up with a protest organised by the Refugee Action Collective outside Serco, the company that profiteers from locking up refugees.
On the way back to Occupy Melbourne, the protesters had a sit-down in the Bourke and Swanston streets intersection, as they had on the previous three days. However the police changed tactics and immediately started pushing people.
A number of police from the tactical response group raced down the street to tackle the protests. Three protesters were dragged away but were then released by the police.
During the afternoon, the police had a heavier presence outside Occupy Melbourne.
The occupation's October 19 general assembly (which occurs daily) had a discussion the threat of eviction. Many expected the lord mayor wanted to evict Occupy Melbourne before the Queen arrived on October 26.
People voted unanimously to attempt to stay at Occupy Melbourne and to peacefully resist eviction. The meeting also voted that if eviction occurred, that there be a mass protest march the next day.
On October 20, the police had a very heavy presence at an action against BHP in protest against its plans to expand its Olympic Dam uranium mine. Occupy Melbourne marched to join the BHP protest.
After the protest, the police had a heavier than usual presence around the camp.
Other motions passed at the general assembly on October 19 included: opposition to a proposed open cut coal mine at Bacchus Marsh, support for a protest against HRL, the company attempting to build a new coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley.
The general assembly also heard from Matthew James, the winner of the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Writing Award. James, a Socialist Alliance member, has announced his intention to donate his prize money to the Occupy Melbourne movement and to the struggle for social equality.
James, is a respected poet and social justice campaigner, He was notified on October 18 that he had won the highly respected award of $2000.
He notified the leaders of the movement of his intention to donate the money as a result of the Mayor’s response to the occupation at City Square.
James said: "After reading an article in which the Mayor called for the authorities to use their eviction powers, I decided I did not want to accept an award from someone who is in favour of using violence to break up what is a peaceful, legal protest."
You can listen to live coverage via Melbourne community radio station 3CR. Follow #occupymelbourne on Twitter.
Solidarity messages are needed -- email messages to firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also phone Occupy Melbourne media contacts Nick Carson, 0438 428 116; Alex Gard, 0437 811 600.
Support Occupy Melbourne video call.