Police brutality at community picket

May 6, 1998

Police brutality at community picket

By Rina Anticich

FREMANTLE — The Richard Court WA government has come under fire over its massive mobilisation of police and their violent behaviour. On April 20, more than 400 police were bussed into Claremont Showgrounds where they conducted hours of military drills before besieging the picket line. Water cannons waited ready while police helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft with spotlights harassed 1000 protesters all night.

On April 28, Patrick attempted to get a petrol tanker onto the wharf. Protesters made it clear it would not be allowed through and linked arms. Police brutally attacked the protesters, punching, kneeing and twisting arms. Numbers were down at the picket line that day, and the tanker got through. This was the first truck to break the picket, but no container has made it through.

Protesters learnt from the experience. Before successfully stopping a truck on April 30, they were drilled in how to link arms and sit entwined, and how to avoid police bending their fingers back and breaking them.

The cost of policing the picket has already topped $500,000, and is increasing. Protesters and the general community have been outraged at this expenditure, especially since nurses are still fighting for a 15% wage rise. Getting that one truck through may have been a "victory" for Patrick, but it is a political defeat for Court.

Anyone wanting to find out more about the Fremantle community picket should visit the web site at <http://www.users.bigpond.com/picket/>.

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