Police move on Occupy Melbourne

Issue 
Melbourne, November 16.

On November 16, police attacked and dismantled the Occupy Melbourne site in Treasury Gardens. Three activists were arrested. At a general assembly in City Square this evening, activists will plan their response.

“Any major decisions will be made in a democratic process tonight. Anyone is welcome, including the police commissioner [Ken Lay] and Robert Doyle,” Occupy Melbourne activist Carl Scrase told the Age.

“All we are protesting for is real democracy in Australia. This is another example of the power of men and money overriding the law.”

The pretext for the police attack was infringement notices issued by the Melbourne City Council. On the evening of November 15, Occupy Melbourne issued the following media release:

“Melbourne City Council Stifles Political Speech Despite Federal Court Challenge”

Melbourne City Council is continuing its campaign of intimidation and harassment of Occupy Melbourne protesters despite a current Federal Court Challenge.

The small cardboard placard reading “Discussion Group. Occupy Movement. Civil Rights: Human Rights” is the subject of a council Notice to Comply and is indicative of Melbourne City Council’s utter disregard for the right to protest, political communication and the current constitutional challenge playing out in the Federal Court.

Erin Buckley, of Occupy Melbourne’s Legal Support Team, stated; “These notices are being repeatedly issued in bad faith by Melbourne City Council with the clear intention of harassing and intimidating the occupiers.”

The infringements issued are for innocuous ‘objects’ and ‘things’ such as cups used for water and political placards such as the one mentioned above. No other users of the gardens have been told they can’t have ‘objects’ or ‘things’. The intent to stifle political speech by the deployment of inappropriate laws could not be clearer.

Erin Buckley stated; “Council officers attend daily to issue notices against protesters in a targeted manner. Police appear to be acting in concert with Melbourne City Council to intimidate the protesters. Protesters are fearful that another show of excessive force such as that of Friday 21st October is imminent. The failure of police and Melbourne City Council to provide a coherent, lawful authority for the force used on peaceful protesters is adding to their apprehension and fear.”

“The intention of Melbourne City Council could not be more clear, nor their lack of respect for democratic principles, the courts and the rule of law.”

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