Police violence has been increasing against the Occupy Melbourne camp, now located at Flagstaff Gardens.
There have been a number of extremely questionable police actions in recent days against Occupy Melbourne. These include: the establishment of a 24/7 police presence and operations van next at Flagstaff Gardens; the arrest of a man for swearing; and -- worse of all -- the forced removal of Occupier’s clothing when wearing tent costumes.
On the morning of December 6, a peaceful Occupy Melbourne (OM) protester was forcibly stripped of her “Tent Monster” protest costume -- left in her underwear in public.
Occupy Melbourne said: “The tent costumes originally gained international notoriety as the subject of the ‘Tent Monsters’ incident in which several tents at Occupy Melbourne grew legs and ran away to avoid capture, literally running circles around authorities.
“Occupy Melbourne protesters conceived the ‘Tent Monsters’ strategy to highlight the absurdity of the situation which has unfolded for several weeks, in which Melbourne city council officers have been issuing Notices to Comply for tents, blankets, food, tarpaulins and other materials to remove them from the peaceful protesters in an effort to prevent the growth of the movement.”
A December 6 OM statement said: “The individual in question was part of the Occupy Melbourne protest and was dressed in a protest costume made from a converted tent. The significance of the costume was to highlight restrictions placed on protesters staging a 24/7 protest in Flagstaff Gardens.
“The protester was surrounded by at least four Melbourne City Council officers and 8 Victorian police officers. Her movement was restricted by the formation of officers surrounding her and she was subsequently restrained as officers proceeded to aggressively removing her costume.
“At each stage she declared that she did not consent or feel comfortable with the actions of the council and police officers, stating that this was a sexual assault. 'This is not consensual', she said while the costume was being removed.
“Her requests and declarations were ignored as officers continued to rip and jostle her costume and person. A knife was requested and used by MCC Officers as the Protest Costume was cut from her body with blades.
The remaining severed costume was violently torn from her body while the protester herself was choked, then discarded, semi-naked and crying on the ground as Vic police and MCC officers walked away with the costume.
“No effort was made to assess her health or wellbeing after the incident nor conceal her disrobed body.”
The incident has been condemned by Liberty Victoria and Greens MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt.
In a December 7 media release, Bandt said: “Stripping a woman in public is inappropriate and should not be condoned by Melbourne City Council or Mayor Robert Doyle.
“This was a peaceful protest. Surely police have better things to do with their time and taxpayer dollars.”
On December 7, another Occupier was stripped and arrested for wearing a “Tent Monster” costume.
The young man was lured away from the protest by the council officer and was quickly surrounded by up to ten police officers and stripped of his tent outfit. The man was then taken into a police van.
In the initial stages of the incident the man had not been told that he was under arrest and the legality of police officers’ actions was called into question by other protesters at the scene.
A third protester was arrested and fined for swearing in public. The police swore first although no action was taken against the police involved.
The increasingly aggressive strategy of Melbourne City Council and Victoria Police appears to conform to a long-term strategy to suppress the Occupy Melbourne protest through harassment and intimidation.
On December 7, Victoria Police Commissioner, Ken Lay revealed the political motive behind the attacks on ABC’s 774 Radio: “The issue is, we back off, we move away, and we end up with another two or three hundred people in the park.”
As part of World Human Rights Day, Occupy Melbourne is calling for Occupy protesters around the world to wear their tents for Human Rights.
In Melbourne, Occupiers will gather from 1pm at Flagstaff Gardens.
For more info & footage of the attacks, visit http://occupymelbourne.org .
Video: Police forcible strip a protester at Occupy Melbourne.. KotcheK.
Video: Police attack 'tent monsters'. sean bedlam.