Victorian Police have used maximum aggression to try and prevent activists taking non-violent direct action outside a major mining conference on October 29.
Activists began gathering early outside the Melbourne Convention Centre where the international Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) is being held over the next few days. They linked arms, chanting, “Land rights, not mining rights”. As the sun was rising, police moved in and attempted to push activists off the convention location's stairs and away from entrances.
As protesters resisted, more police were detailed into the area. Police flung several people onto the ground and against bollards. They also charged protesters with their horses and used pepper spray, including on media representatives.
The protesters' wellness stall has been assisting people who have been sprayed, after police had earlier smashed through it.
Blockade IMARC Alliance activist Zane Alcorn, who was part of a group linking arms on the front line of the protest, told Green Left Weekly: “I just jumped in to help support the group. There were multiple other entrances, the cops could have just let us blockade this one.”
Asked why he took this action, he said: “We know that mining is devastating our global ecology in a multiple ways and that the damage is not going to be addressed in any meaningful way by this conference. They just want to ensure they continue to have the maximum access to extract minerals.
“We are here on behalf of everyone whose homes are being poisoned and damaged by mining and future generations who will be facing the worst impacts of climate change.”
Police are escorting IMARC delegates into the conference, while protesters chant “Blood on your hands”.
Several people have been arrested. Police are targeting those with megaphones and other protest leaders.
As more protesters arrive, including West Papuan and Western Saharan contingents, activists are attempting to hold a wider perimeter around the convention centre's main entrance.