Police intimidate Albert Park activists

Issue 

By Jeremy Smith
MELBOURNE — September 21 should have been an ordinary working day for David Mizon, an activist in the Save Albert Park (SAP) campaign and the Democratic Socialist Party, but it wasn't. Mizon was arrested at his workplace, Petrochemical Refineries Australia, in a move designed to intimidate Mizon and the campaign. The arrest was made on the strength of photographic evidence of his actions at a protest on September 9. "I had gone to work about 7am for the day shift", Mizon told Green Left Weekly. "Around ten to nine, the shift supervisor received a phone call saying that two police officers were waiting to interview me down at the security gate. When I went down there, the police were already in the gatehouse with the gate guard."
The police informed Mizon that they wanted to interview him about the events of September 9. Mizon pointed out that he had not been charged at the demonstration. "They said: "Yes that's right, but we're charging you now with criminal damage. We have a picture that shows you pushing down a fence". They said that they had many little tricks just like that."
The police then proceeded to ask many questions about the demonstration. Mizon indicated that he was innocent and the interview ended. Bail conditions which prohibited Mizon's attendance at any future actions were offered and refused. Mizon was taken to Sunshine Magistrates Court where the police tried to impose their restrictive bail conditions. With the help of an SAP barrister and instructing solicitor, the conditions of bail were renegotiated.
"The whole exercise was to set a precedent whereby it would make it difficult for SAP to do any planning work if there are cops running around hounding people at their homes, their work, wherever the cops can track them down. They want to hound and intimidate activists, maximise the amount of discomfort for those arrested, maximise the charges and try to fragment the campaign," Mizon said.
Since Mizon's arrest, two more SAP members have been arrested on photographic evidence — one at home and another who gave himself up after constant harassment.
SAP convenor Iain Stewart told Green Left Weekly that the arrests signalled a rise in the tempo of police harassment of SAP. "If the government wants to avoid embarrassment associated with protests at the event [the Grand Prix], then it will have to find some other method. Will they use the Grand Prix Act to stop known members of SAP from actually entering the arena during the event? This is possible, but this particular campaign of intimidation that the police have initiated will definitely not work.".

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