Occupy Melbourne resists council, police harassment

November 18, 2011
Police and council officers dismantle a marquee at Occupy Melbourne, Treasury Gardens, November 17. Photo: Occupy Melbourne/Face

Since the Occupy movement in Melbourne began in City Square in October it has been met with resistance from the Melbourne City Council and the Victorian Police force.

Last month, the Melbourne occupiers were violently evicted and thrown out of City Square by more than 500 police. Close to 100 activists and bystanders were arrested. The police stole people’s belongings. Of the 17 truckloads of property that were taken 14 were driven to a local tip and dumped in landfill.

Much of the personal property in the three remaining truckloads was damaged or broken beyond repair. Several protesters later retrieved their wallets from the police to find ID, credits cards and money missing.

Since Occupy Melbourne shifted to Treasury Gardens, the demands from the council have become even more ludicrous.

On November 16, more than 100 police officers forcefully removed the “Indigenous Embassy and Customs House” tent that had been set up earlier that week, claiming that it was damaging the grass.

Council officers later told the remaining occupiers that sleeping equipment, tarpaulins, tents, signs and other “banned” items had to be removed.

The next day, a wheelchair-bound occupier was given a notice from the council to remove the tent he used for shelter. At 1am the next morning, police confiscated the tent.

There were also six arrests of some Occupiers who were standing on a tarpaulin that the council deemed a “prohibited item”.

The Occupiers moved all of their belongings to the pavement in an effort to stop the police confiscations, but council officers tried to remove them anyway.

As the council workers loaded the trucks with the protesters’ belongings, the Occupiers unloaded them again.

Occupy Melbourne activists David Schoeffel said: “It is a ludicrous waste of taxpayer money to send squads of riot police to remove marquees, tarps and food from protesters. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.”

Eventually, the estimated 80 police officers and numerous council workers left without taking the activists’ property. But they warned that they would return.

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