LIVE BLOG on Occupy Sydney and Melbourne police attacks, peaceful rallies
Diary of an occupier -- seven days at Occupy Melbourne
Socialist Alliance condemns police violence against camps: 'They cannot arrest the truth'
NSW police moved in at about 5am on October 23 to violently evict Occupy Sydney campers in Martin Place.
The more than 100 occupiers were woken from their sleep and forcible 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 secretary 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).
Viv Miley, a participant in Occupy Sydney, told Green Left Weekly the police told people -- many of whom had just woken up -- 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.
He said: “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 rally had already been called in Martin Place for Saturday October 29, in support of the call for global rallies by the Occupy movement in support of a Robin Hood tax on global financial institutions
Miley said: “The occupation showed there is a lot of hope and inspiration by the Occupy Wall Street movement and the movement in Spain. It has captured people's imagination.
“We had to continue despite police harassment from the start, when they made us removes tents and sleep on the ground on the first night.
“That demonstrates this non-violent protest was determined to continue despite the odds -- and we will find ways to continue this movement against corporate power despite the eviction.”
The attack on Occupy Sydney came after supporters of Occupy Melbourne took to the streets for a peaceful march through Melbourne's CBD on October 22 -- the 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 to occupy the Treasury Gardens in a week's time.
Police used high levels of violence against protesters during the eviction. After the camp was closed, protesters and hundreds of supporters continued to occupy nearby Swanston Street as police spent hours trying to forcibly clear the streets. The Age said more than 95 people were arrested.
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."
(If you were present at the police attack, call 0434 126 515 to report any assault you suffered.)
At the October 22 rally in Sydney, the crowd voted unanimously to adopt the following statement in the name of Occupy Sydney.
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We are the workers. We are the indebted. We are the immigrants and the indigenous. We are the homeless. We are the students. We are the unemployed. We are the underrepresented people of the world.
We are the 99%. We are Occupy Sydney.
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.
We live in a world where the 1% that created the financial crisis are bailed-out and rewarded, while the 99% pay the price through their wages, their houses and their pensions.
We live in a country that has never been so unequal. And our environment has never been so devastated.
The events in Tunisia and Egypt, and the events beginning in Greece, Spain and the United States, show us that, united in action, the 99% can change the world and determine the type of society that we want to live in.
We are part of a movement that aims to connect the important struggles that are happening, both here in Australia and around the world, and is creating a new path towards a society based on the needs and the democratic participation of all.
We extend our hand and invite you to join us, because we all are the 99%.