By Sarah Nicholson
SYDNEY — On the evening of April 8, Vibe Tribe's free community party, "Freequency", in Sydney Park, St Peters, was attacked. The party had been in progress for over two hours, when numerous police squad cars and paddy wagons, a dog-handling van and police rescue unit arrived. Without issuing a warning to disperse, approximately 40 armed police attacked the crowd.
Vibe Tribe is a non-profit collective which aims to create multimedia events in "safe zones" where people of all races, sexualities and cultural backgrounds can come together. This party was a peaceful gathering of the non-violent and environmentally aware community who like to express themselves in public spaces through creative music.
Groups of officers singled out individuals at random, beating and dragging them along the ground as they took them away. One person had a bone fractured in his leg, and another had his hand broken in two places. Requests for medical attention while they were in police custody were refused.
At least 10 people were seized and detained without explanation. No charges were laid.
Following the attacks on the individuals, the entire group of police officers stormed into the crowd of unarmed dancers, indiscriminately battering them with their batons. The police left after seizing the generator.
It has been suggested that noise was a factor in closing down the event. However, the Sydney Park site is like an amphitheatre; the sound is contained by the brickworks and surrounding hills. A resident from Devine Street — one block from Sydney Park — said that at no point in the evening were they able to hear music from the park.
Commenting on accusations of police violence, Inspector Dick Baker from Mascot police said that the party goers "wouldn't turn the music down and communication would have been a problem as far as police were concerned".
In fact, members of the Vibe Tribe collective had attempted to speak with police outside the party regarding noise levels, but the police had refused to negotiate.
The police spokesperson also denied that the police had intentionally harmed people at the party and denied the use of batons, except to "ease party goers away from the power generator".
The council and police continue to limit community access to affordable alternative and under-utilised spaces. The South Sydney Council's belligerent stance on dance parties is an endorsement of the police's reprehensible behaviour at this party. It is part of the wider "law and order" agenda which aims to criminalise those who reject the dominant patriarchal social structures.
A protest party against police violence will be held on May 6 outside the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on King Street at noon, with speakers and DJs. Defend your right to party and your right to protest. Reclaim the public space!