Socialist Alliance (SA) stallholders at today’s Newtown Festival were told today by a festival organiser that NSW Police had urged them to ban SA and Occupy Sydney from the festival.
The SA has paid for and run a stall every year at the festival. But this year police threatened organisers — the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre — with a $16,000 bill if they did not carry out the ban, saying that the presence of SA and/or Occupy Sydney might incite trouble.
The festival organisers allowed the SA stall regardless. But early on the day a squad of armed police and a private security officer who pointed to our "Socialist Alliance supports Occupy" banner and said: "That is the problem".
SA activist and local community activist Rachel Evans spoke to festival organisers who said that they had no problems with the stall or the banner.
However, several Occupy Sydney activists were stopped - by both police and festival staff - from handing out leaflets at the festival. The leaflets advertised upcoming events, including a "free school" and an "anti-corporate greed tour" on November 19.
Later acting Superintendent Anthony Metcalf from Newtown Police station came to the stall and explained to Socialist Alliance’s Susan Price that the police wanted to protect the safety of the festival goers, which could be disrupted if far right-wing groups were to approach the stall.
Socialist Alliance’s Pip Hinman told Green Left Weekly: "Socialist Alliance members, along with many others with a broad range of political views, have been active in Occupy Sydney, which opposes the tyranny of the richest 1% over the 99%. We are proud of this involvement and support for the global Occupy movement.
"This an outrageous attack on freedom of political expression in Newtown which has a strong tradition of political and cultural diversity. Socialist Alliance is a respected political party in this community. Any attempts at political censorship by the NSW police or any other authority will meet strong opposition from local residents."