Strip-searched for swearing

Issue 

BY AARON BENEDEK

SYDNEY — Police arrested four student activists on February 28 during the University of Sydney's orientation week. The four arrested had joined around a dozen others in an anti-Liberal sing-along next to the Liberal student club stall.

Amidst a scuffle over an A-frame decorated with a picture of Prime Minister John Howard, Liberal Party members threw punches at some of the protesters. Two uniformed police officers patrolling Sydney University and one undercover cop quickly arrived on the scene.

When the police arrived, one protester, who has asked not to be named, said, "thank fucking christ you've arrived". Unamused, the police threatened her with arrest for swearing. When she replied "rubbish ... you can't arrest me for swearing", she was tackled to the ground, her arm was twisted behind her back and she was hand-cuffed.

When two men attempted to help her, they too were wrestled to the ground and arrested. One other anti-Liberal protester was arrested after Liberal students accused him of tipping paint on the John Howard A-frame.

The arresting officer repeatedly failed to identify himself on request and was not wearing a name badge. Despite numerous requests, the police would not tell the woman first arrested what she had been arrested for.

After being taken into police custody, she was strip-searched and detained for a number of hours. She was charged with resisting arrest and offensive language.

"The fact that [the police] are on campus ... and they are prepared to harass and intimidate activists should concern us all", said Angela Luvera, a representative of the Sydney International Women's Day Collective.

"This is an obvious case of police trying to scare women away from political activity ... she was strip-searched for saying 'rubbish'", Luvera continued.

Sydney University activists are discussing how to respond to police intimidation of left-wing students on campus.

From Green Left Weekly, March 6, 2002.
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