Occupy Australia: Thousands turn out across the country
At 11.30am on October 15, about 750 people converged on City Square in Swanston Street in Melboune’s CBD as part of the global Occupy Together movement. It is a movement inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement that has initiated similar movements in hundreds of cities worldwide.
By the time protesters who had been at a separate demonstration in solidarity with Palestine joined the assembly, numbers had grown to more than 2000 people.
Tents and stalls have been set up for the indefinite occupation. Stalls have been set up by groups including: refugee support and campaign groups; equal marriage campaign groups; an Indigenous tent and a media tent for independent media groups.
Occupy Melbourne activist Phil Stallard addressed the assembly, explaining the significance of the movement: “We, the people, rallying in Occupy Together protests around the world are battling first and foremost for the right to life, in the face of elitist governments and corporations doing their best to depopulate this globe through machinations hardly known to the public.
“As one people, united, we the 99% acknowledge the reality. That the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members together with a system that protects our rights upon corruption of that system.
“A democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth.
“No true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come together at a time when corporations run our governments. They place profit over people, self-interest over justice and oppression over equality.
"Because our governments have failed in their responsibilities, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights and those of their neighbours.”
“We are rallying for the restoration of human dignity, where people have been treated like cattle by the various elites of the world in their pursuit of wealth and power.”
Chris Breen, an activist from the socialist group Solidarity, told Green Left Weekly: “We are in a world racked by inequality, where there is always far too much at the top; the CEO of the company I work for just got a 53 per cent pay rise up to $2.9m and in contrast up to a million people are going to starve in Africa.
“There is starting to be a movement around the world of people challenging that inequality, perhaps the most dramatic examples of this would be in Tunisia and Egypt -- where the dictators in those countries have been toppled. Occupy Wall Street took its inspiration from Egypt and the movement in Spain.
“I am hoping this will become something more, but it is just the beginning so who knows. It’s important to support this event because we are all trying to change the world.”
Socialist Alternative activist Declan Murphy told GLW: “The global occupy movement is a very important movement as it is explicitly about reclaiming our democracy from corporate influence and from corporate power.
“I think it is telling that this movement has arisen globally in the circumstance of a crisis in the capitalist system. We have millions upon millions of people being plunged in to despair, declining living standards worldwide; austerity measures being brought in by governments.”
Socialist Alliance activist Sue Bolton told GLW: "Socialist Alliance is here because we think that it is really important that their be resistance against the control of society by the corporations.
"We need to ensure that this movement continues indefinitely and we need to broaden support from the trade unions."
The Occupy Melbourne movement is set to continue to expand, so grab yourself a sleeping bag and make your way to the City Square in the CBD as soon as you can.
photos from Melbourne, by Jody Betzien
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In Sydney, more than 1000 people have gathered in Martin Place, where those assembled decided to camp indefinitely.
Photos from Sydney by Peter Boyle.
One protester explained why they felt compelled to join the assembly at Martin Place: "I'm not much of a protester, but today I'm going to join the Occupy protest movement. I am going because although I am a highly skilled medical researcher who has worked hard for many years at improving public health, I can't afford a bunch of bananas while obviously incompetent CEOs get richer by squeezing me harder.
"I protest because I have lived under a succession of governments that have enabled their rich mates to get richer while distracting the people by demonising refugees, resulting in horrific suffering by people who came to this country, like I did, with nothing but seeking a better life, people who are fleeing the criminal wars we wage on innocent civilians.
"Governments who distract us from the real issues by 'getting tough on crime' resulting in the unjust imprisonment of the First People of Australia.
"I am joining my brothers and sisters in the US in these protests because they live in richest country in the world but can't afford to get decent health care when they need it.
"I know why I'm joining these protests and so does Wall Street. If enough of us do it, then perhaps we can prove that greed is not good, but people are."
Day 1 of Occupy Sydney.
At about 9.30pm, police moved in against the occupiers camp at Martin Place, starting to take people's tents. They banned all tents, mattresses and other camping material. After a stand off, with protesters linking arms around their gear, police told occupiers they could stay but not use tents or mattresses or any other "camping" gear. Occupiers voted to stay regardless.
One protester, whose gear was taken by police and thrown in a garbage truck, locked on to the truck. he was arrested, but reportedly released without charge later.
Report on police attack on the camp in Martin Place.
Occupy Sydney is organsing nightly general assembly meetings at the camp in Martin Place at 6.30pm. At 1pm, there will be a general workshop on a different political issue every day and an open mic speakout at 4pm.
A general assembly on october 16 set Saturday, October 22 at 12pm for the next rally in support of the Occupy movement.
For more information, see the Occupy Sydney site.
In Brisbane, Jim McIlroy reports at least 300 people attended the occupation of Post Office Square. People from a wide variety of beliefs and backgrounds joined the gathering during the day, with some prepared to stay the night.
At a community assembly in the square, spokeswoman for the organising committee, Kate Haskett, led the crowd in chanting: "Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!"
She said: "We thank the New York citizens who have inspired people in more than 1200 cities across the world to show their own power."
The words of the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City were then read out. Haskett said: "This declaration speaks for all of humanity. It's up to us, the people, to stand up against what we know is wrong.
"We acknowledge the original occupiers, the traditional owners, of this land, the Aboriginal people. And we open our arms to all people of different races, beliefs and nations. We are the 99 per cent!"
Further discussions were held to plan the future of the Brisbane occupation.
On October 16, Occupy Brisbane said an estimated 450 different people passed through Post Office Square over October 15 all up, with about 50 people stayed for the first night's occupation. It said 'one surprising element amidst the day's activities, was the strong support from some local businesses" and individuals -- with several hundred dollars, tents, food and water donated to the occupiers.
A live streasm of Occupy Brisbane can be watched here
For more information, visit the Occupy Brisbane Facebook page.
In Perth, at least 200 people gathered for Occupy Perth protest in Forrest Place in the city. Those there have pledged to return to begin an indefinite occupation on October 28.
Photos from Perth by Alex Bainbridge.
In Adelaide, about 200 people turned out for the Occupy Adelaide action.
In Canberra, more than 50 people came together and held a march to Garema Place in the centre of Civic. Those there organised a mass meeting to discuss further plans for Occupy Canberra -- stay tuned for further meetings and actions.
Thirty people also protested in Darwin, and decided to return every Wednesday evening as long as the Occupy movement continues around the world.
[Visit www.occupymelbourne.org for more updates, and photos, of Occupy Melbourne. Some photos of Occupy Sydney can be see here. Have details of more #Occupy protests around Australia? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org . Send photos and videos of the various actions as well.]