Rally to defend homes, mural

As well as destroying heritage homes the development plan would destroy the iconic ‘Three Proud People’ mural in Newtown.

More than 400 people marched on August 14 in protest against plans to demolish residences in the heritage-listed Pines Estate Heritage Conservation Area in the inner-west suburb of Newtown.

RailCorp is considering a proposal to compulsorily takeover and demolish all the houses on Newtown’s Leamington Avenue, and others on Holdsworth and Pine Streets, to build a railway tunnel.

As well as destroying heritage homes built in 1887, the plan would result in the destruction of the iconic mural depicting the famous “Black power” salute by two medal winning African American athletes (supported by Australian athlete Peter Norman) at the Mexico 1968 Olympics.

The mural is painted on the side of 39 Pine Street with the slogan “Three Proud People”.

Marrickville deputy mayor and Greens candidate for the seat of Marrickville in the 2011 state election Fiona Byrne told the crowd the planned changes were unnecessary.

She said instead of building the tunnel, train speeds and timetables should be improved. Train times were slower today than in the 1940s, she said.

Local state Labor MP Carmel Tebbutt also addressed the crowd, but was heckled when she refused to rule out the planned demolitions, as was Gladys Bereklijan, NSW opposition transport spokesperson.

Jack Mundey, a former leader of the Builders’ Labourers’ Federation who helped organise “green bans” in the 1960s and ’70s that saved many heritage buildings, called for “extra-parliamentary action” to save the houses — including green bans by building workers.

The artist who painted the mural addressed the crowd, as did the late Norman’s nephew, Matt Norman.

A letter was read out from Tommy Smith, the gold-medal winning African American athlete who features in the mural, calling for it to be protected as symbol of peace and equality.

For more information, visit Saveleamingtonavenue.org.

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