Socialist Party Yarra City councillors Anthony Main and Stephen Jolly released released this letter below to Occupy Melbourne on October 27.
* * *
Dear Occupy Melbourne comrades,
Thank you for your letter to Councillors requesting support from the Yarra City Council. On behalf of the two Socialist Party Councillors at Yarra we would like to offer the following brief reply.
As you know the Socialist Party has participated in the Occupy Melbourne movement since the beginning. A number of our members were involved in defending the camp last Friday and as a result several were brutally handled by the police. Our members are also involved in the legal defence campaign.
While we share your concerns about ongoing police intimidation we firmly believe that the main goal of Occupy Melbourne should be to re-occupy a site in the Melbourne CBD this Saturday. The option of going to Yarra should only be looked at in the event of a defeat on Saturday.
While the Occupy movement was initiated to highlight corporate greed and the excesses of capitalism, in many cities the question of the right to protest itself has become a feature.
This is definitely the case in Melbourne where the Melbourne City Council has made it clear that they want to decide when, where and how long people can protest. We see this as an attack on democratic rights and therefore totally unacceptable.
The Socialist Party will not be wasting any time this week discussing with Council bureaucrats or right-wing councillors. These are the same people who stand against the community every other day of the week. They will only be forced to accept Occupy Melbourne under pressure from below.
Instead we will be spending our time this week building for the biggest turn out possible to the action that is planned for Saturday. We have even cancelled part of our Socialism 2011 event on Saturday to this end.
We think building a mass response for Saturday should be the priority of the Occupy movement this week. As part of this strategy we are also working to win support from working class organisations like trade unions.
Last night our members participated in a debate at the Construction Foresty Mining Energy Union General Meeting. At the end of this debate a resolution offering political and logistical support to the Occupy movement was passed.
We think it is organisations like trade unions that will give the movement the weight that it needs. We think this is much more important than lobbying faith-based groups and Councils.
That said, if on Saturday we are unable to occupy the Treasury Gardens then of course we should be looking to develop a Plan B. If we are without options in the CBD, the Socialist Party would be more than happy to fight on Council for the right of the Occupy movement to protest in Yarra.
It should be stressed however that we see this as a fall back position. Our main goal should be to Occupy somewhere in the Melbourne CBD and to stand up against Melbourne City Council’s attempts to curtail our right to protest.
As an aside it has been noted that a few of the Occupy Melbourne organisers have been vehemently opposed to socialist involvement from the beginning. The very fact that some of these same people are now seeking our support highlights this as a serious mistake.
Socialists are the most consistent campaigners against corporate greed and the system that creates it. We also have a great deal of experience in the trade union movement, the student movement and in successful community campaigns.
We will be long term participants in this movement and we have both political and practical ideas about how to build it. We look forward to discussing and debating these ideas with you in the next period. In the meantime we are doing all we can to build for Saturday. See you then.
Socialist Party Councillors in Yarra,
Anthony Main & Stephen Jolly