Mounted police attack peaceful Nike picket

May 9, 2001



MELBOURNE — While most of the M1 protests around Australia were marked by police violence, Melbourne's M1 blockade and rally was not attacked by police forces. So it came as a shock when the weekly peaceful picket of the Nike Superstore in Swanston Street was viciously attacked by mounted police on May 4.

The regular Friday night protest outside Nike's main store in Melbourne is part of a campaign to highlight the appalling conditions and wages endured by Nike workers.

On May 4 around 50 people blockaded the store, chanting and handing out information to passers-by. The police, initially numbering about 20, soon increased to more than 40, with extra officers running out of the Nike store. One protester commented, "you know what side the police are on when the police start coming out of the Nike stores instead of police stations".

At the same time, Melbourne City Council officers handed out on-the-spot-fines of $500 to activists leafleting in the adjacent Bourke Street mall. The MCC officers were acting on council by-laws that have not been enforced since the 1960s Vietnam War protests.

Following the issuing of a few fines the MCC officers attempted to confiscate the stalls of the International Socialist Organisation and Socialist Alternative. Almost immediately the first line of the Nike picket pealed off and linked arms to protect the stalls.

The police then began to push the Nike picketers away from the entrance to the store. Protesters left the Bourke Street stalls to help maintain the Nike picket. Police began grabbing blockaders by their collars, shoulder blades and hair.

The protesters managed to defend the picket line until seven mounted police arrived and pushed into the protesters' ranks. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

The police went on to form a blockade themselves around the store and managed to stop trading just as well as the protesters had. The Melbourne City Council officers proceeded to impose more fines on campaigning activists and the protesters voted to leave and come back next week even stronger. All that was left was horse shit and the police weren't given a fine for that.

For further information on the next Nike action, contact Resistance on (03) 9639 8622.

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