A guest post by Gary Lindsay:
I have summarized some but definitely not all of the current excessive policing that is going on in Australia. This article deals only with the actions of the police, and does not deal with the Australian response to Covid, even though the policing is the result of the Covid response. Other than in the conclusion I have refrained from commentary so that the readers may form their own opinions.
Before I start, I would like readers to know that it is difficult to find many references to the current excessive policing in Australia’s mainstream media. The same goes for Facebook and Twitter; they are actively deleting dissent including videos of police brutality, to the point where on the weekend of 18 September Facebook shut down all live streams from Victoria and the Victorian Police attempting to use the state of emergency to enforce a no-fly zone over the CBD to prevent TV helicopters from taking live pictures (this was later ruled illegal in the Supreme Court of Victoria). Alternate media such as Avi Yemini for Rebel Media and many other amateur sources via platforms such as Telegram are the only way to find out what is really going on, along with the occasional article from SBS and the Guardian and some politicians.
On 21 June 2021 the government of New South Wales issued a stay-at-home (lockdown) order for the local government areas in the Sydney metropolitan area. Melbourne’s fourth lockdown took place over two weeks in May and June, and a entered its fifth lockdown on 14 July.
The Sydney lockdown was initially due to cases in the wealthier suburbs, but after a few days the focus shifted to Western Sydney LGAs (local government areas) such as Canterbury-Bankstown and Parramatta. Since mid-July much of Sydney’s west has been heavily policed, with mounted police patrolling the area looking for rule breaches and even aerial surveillance. The Australian Defence Force has been brought in to assist police. This heavy and highly visible police action has continued every day and there are no signs of it stopping.
A major rally protesting government overreach was arranged for the weekend of 24 July. This protest went ahead in all Australian cities including Melbourne and Sydney. I watched these protests via live feed on Facebook, and saw thousands of people marching and people generally being well behaved. In Sydney the police began shepherding protesters to barricades near the Town Hall, where a fight broke out between police and protesters. Police released a photograph of a police horse being punched by a protester, with later footage from citizens emerging showing this was clearly the protester fending the horse away from his face. The man was arrested on animal cruelty charges and I do not know whether he is out of prison. In Melbourne the police did not engage with the protesters until the protest began to disperse, when they began rounding up and arresting those left behind.
Melbourne’s fifth lockdown ended on July 27.
The government of Victoria issued its sixth lockdown order on the 5 of August, approximately one week after completing the fifth. That evening a group of approximately 2000 protesters marched through the streets of Melbourne, playing cat-and-mouse in an attempt to evade police. There was also a major rally on 6 August during daytime.
During another rally on 11 August Victorian police arrested a man named Marty Focker and charged him with crimes they knew would not stick in court, with the intention of obtaining onerous bail conditions so they could re-arrest him and hold him in prison when he inevitably breached them. Unfortunately for the police involved Marty recorded them discussing the conspiracy on his mobile phone and the footage was sent to Rebel Media.
On 21 August there were more nationwide rallies, including in many regional towns. I personally attended the rally in Brisbane, which was peaceful. Both Sydney and Melbourne suffered from excessive policing, with the rally in Sydney was cancelled at the last minute after the lead organizer was sent to jail for 8 months (for organizing a protest!), 1500 police were deployed in Sydney’s CBD, public transport was shut down, and ride share providers had to ask patrons to prove they were essential workers. In Melbourne the police pursued the rally, and opened fire on protesters using rubber bullets (they’re brutal, and can be lethal), which was the first time this has happened in Australia.
Police in both cities began arresting people for not wearing masks, and sometimes even when they are not breaking the law. Note that they are arresting people, not issuing instant fines. One example is presented in a TikTok which emerged in late August of a father dressed in his running gear, in handcuffs in front of his young child. A passer-by began recording and telling the cops they were out of line, and after several minutes of discussion he was released. Had the good Samaritan kept walking it is likely he would have been imprisoned.
On 31 August a well-known blogger and anti-vax campaigner named Monica Smit was arrested in Melbourne on two counts of incitement. She was offered bail on the condition she shut down her political movement and delete her website. She declined so she was detained in prison for 22 days until the Supreme Court of Victoria granted her bail and set a precedent in the process. She is Australia’s first political prisoner since Pauline Hansen in 2003.
More of the same continued into September. On Saturday 18 September major rallies took place. Victoria shut down public transport and Victoria Police searched every vehicle moving in and out of Melbourne. Organisers caught the police unawares by changing the location from the CBD to Fitzroy at the last minute. There was still significant violence from the police, including a 70 year old woman being tackled by multiple officers then sprayed with mace while on the ground.
On 20 September a large group of construction workers gathered out the front of the Melbourne office of their union, the CFMEU, demanding the officials stand up to the mandatory vaccine. The union officials did not, and the Premier called in the counter terror squad. The union officials then began fighting with their own members, with the assistance of police. In retaliation to the protest the Premier shut down construction for at least two weeks.
The following day construction workers protested in Melbourne, shutting down the West Gate Freeway. There were violent scenes as police separated the protest into smaller groups, with one large group ending up at the Shrine of Remembrance. Victoria Police stormed the Shrine and dispersed the crowd, despite the crowd sitting still and being well behaved.
There have been protests in Melbourne met with police violence every day since. An enormous convoy of perhaps 100 police vehicles was videoed travelling through the Melbourne CBD on 22 September, another excessive show of force.
There was another major rally in all major cities on Saturday 25 September, with similar levels of violence in the Melbourne and Sydney rallies and generally peaceful everywhere else.
Not only have the Victorian police been deliberately antagonising protesters, they have become more aggressive towards the public in general. Several videos of incidents where police crash-tackle unsuspecting members of the public, including one at Flinders Street Station where a man was talking with several officers when he was attacked from behind by another officer. There have also been reports of the Victorian Police targeting anyone wearing high vis clothing, because they might be construction workers on their way to a protest.
On Monday 27 September several nurses and healthcare workers risked their careers to attend a rally. Unlike other rallies, everyone was wearing a mask and social distancing, and were in full compliance with the health order. The police still turned up in riot gear and dispersed the crowd. This is particularly noteworthy because people were enjoying the same park doing social distancing the same way but were not dispersed – the only difference is that the gathering on the Monday was political.
The people involved in these rallies and protests are mostly people who are negatively affected by the government policy – the small businesspeople, the newly unemployed (thanks to the Covid response), and more recently tradies. There are also people who are generally concerned about human rights abuses (whether freedom of speech, freedom of choice with the vaccine, just generally against excessive government), as well as those with fringe beliefs who seem to come out when there is a protest for some reason. For the most part the protestors are just ordinary Australians who only want life to go back to how it was in 2019.
Following the protests on 17 September the mainstream media have finally begun to report the police violence, but even now they’re only showing the particularly bad bits such as the woman who got maced on the ground and the man crash tackled at Flinders Street. They have not reported that this has been going on for months, and has been progressively getting worse. They are still using the term “rubber bullets” as if they are Nerf bullets that don’t hurt. As I have been writing this it has occurred to me how much the attitude of the Victorian and NSW governments have towards their citizens has deteriorated since June. It is not something I ever expected to see in this part of the world, in either Australia or New Zealand, and it saddens me to think that a large proportion of my fellow Australians actually believe that this behaviour is acceptable.
Finally, I want to make it very clear that not all of Australia’s policemen are violent thugs. In Queensland, where I live, the average cop is extremely reluctant to police Covid and I have it on good authority that their unofficial policy is to only act when a complaint is received. Even in Sydney and Melbourne the vast majority do not wish to be committing these acts; most do so only because they have debts to pay and kids to raise, and are simply doing what they have to in the hope that this will end soon. If it does not end we may find a significant shortage of labour in the Forces.
July 2021 protests
https://t.me/gchristensen/231?single (horsey punch).
http://rebelne.ws/3DC8dCy (police trumping up charges)
https://fb.watch/8iEgL-99Eq/ (Brisbane rally)
https://www.rebelnews.com/the_world_needs_to_witness_what_police_did_in_melbourne_yesterday (First time VicPol fired rubber bullets)
https://fb.watch/8iJqne4pgF/ (tradies outside the CFMEU)
https://fb.watch/8iK8DAnOOz/ (“highlights” of 18 September)
https://twitter.com/tdolling/status/1440492866401226758 (convoy of police vehicles)
https://t.me/ausrural/1541 (another video of the enormous convoy)
https://t.me/TommyRobinsonNews/26054 (another man brutally arrested by Victorian Police)