Thousands of people mobilised across England on May 1 against the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which activists say will erode the right to protest, writes Susan Price.
At a major speech in parliament on February 12, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government was “serious about Aboriginal policy … no less serious than it is about stopping the boats”. He pledged to close the gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous outcomes in health, education and employment.
Last month a South Australian Police (SAPOL) officer asked me to monitor the activities of political activists in Adelaide. On January 17, a plain-clothed officer approached me in a coffee shop. He explained that he recognised me as an activist, and told me he was with a special area of “security and intelligence” that aimed to create links between the police and the activist community. He appeared interested in gaining information on the activities of environmental groups, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israeli products and Tamil solidarity actions.
The Copenhagen City Court ruled on September 2 that climate activists Natasha Verco, a 32-year-old activist from Australia, and Noah Weiss, a US student, were innocent of the charges against them. The two climate activists had been charged for organising “illegal activities” during the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. Verco and Weiss had been accused of planning violence against police, disturbance of public order and vandalism. The charges could have lead to several years of prison and deportation. But the charges didn’t stand up in court.
“A juggernaut out of control” is how lawyer Rob Stary described the Australian Federal Police and ASIO after a judge concluded a case against three Tamils in April 2010. A spokesperson for the AFP defended its prosecution, saying that the criminal inquiry had been “complex” and “challenging.” In Queensland, the police commissioner has been reported as saying that he opposed the publication of the Crime and Misconduct Commission report into the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee, who had his liver split in two after Sergeant Chris Hurly fell on him in a “complicated” way.
On April 20, 200 angry protesters shouted down state police minister Rob Johnson, as he tried to justify the anti-democratic “stop-and-search” laws. The proposed legislation allows police to conduct potentially intrusive body searches without suspicion of a crime. The laws would also allow the minister to make any space a “declared area”, which drastically increases police powers in that area. The crowd was also addressed by Greens MLC Giz Watson, Labor opposition police spokesperson Margaret Quirk and Dr David Indermaur from the Crime Research Centre.