We need more people, say Redfern Embassy activists

Issue 
Protesters say the number of tents is deceptive.

The Redfern Tent Embassy is calling for more people to show solidarity with its protest against the commercial development of the iconic Block in Sydney.

"We need more males down here in particular," Embassy founder Jenny Munro told Green Left Weekly at the site on August 13. "There have been a few incidents and people are concerned for their safety at night."

Maori protester Tepora Stephens, a 46-year-old former unionist who quit her job to join the protest, said the number of tents at the site was deceptive.

"There are only about half a dozen people down here regularly," said Stephens, who moved to Australia 21 years ago.

Munro, a 59-year-old Wiradjuri woman who was part of the original Tent Embassy protest in Canberra in 1972, said water supply was also a problem. "We need people to carry water from the tap to the campsite."

Stoking the camp fire, a protester who wished to be known by only her first name, Therese, said she came down whenever she could because she was studying nearby. "I come down to help with the fire and show solidarity, especially because it's mostly just women," she said.

The Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) is planning 62 low-cost units as part of a commercial development that is being built at the site after the original housing block was demolished. But the corporate media have reported that funding for the low-income housing is yet to be found. "Besides," Munro told GLW, "there were 112 low-cost dwellings here before."

Business media outlet Bloomberg has reported that Aboriginal people are being "squeezed out" of the area as non-Aboriginal "hipsters", with no interest in Aboriginal culture or history, move in and push up property prices.

The corporate media have reported that AHC chief executive Mick Mundine has refused to meet with protesters since the protest began on May 26.

Photo essay below by Mat Ward.

Embassy founder Jenny Munro: "We need more males down here in particular."

The embassy protest started on May 26.

Maori protester Tepora Stephens: "There are only about half a dozen people down here regularly."

The low-cost housing for which The Block was known has been demolished.

A protester who wished to be known by only as Therese: "I come down to help with the fire and show solidarity."

Protesters' signs at The Block, which is next to Redfern train station, one stop from Sydney Central Station.

Tepora Stephens, a former unionist from Aotearoa, moved to Australia 21 years ago.

Aboriginal Housing Company chief executive Mick Mundine has refused to meet with protesters.

The Aboriginal Housing Company is planning 62 low-cost units as part of a commercial development.

Protester Tepora Stephens pointed out Muslims praying next to the protest. "That's a beautiful image," she said.