by Nicola Paris on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 1:35am via Facebook. Firstly, I am so tired I shouldn’t be writing. Not my most eloquent self right now. But I thought it would help me to sleep, and share some information about today.
I intended to leave several times, actually have a day job, and was intending to come down for first couple of hours to support but then the escalation continued. It is hard to walk away when you are scared for peoples safety.
I expected the police to be difficult, but I wasn’t expecting this. Nor were the many people of Melbourne who got swept up in their path. I personally escorted several elderly people out of the way of being trampled by police, a large number of other folks as well were indiscriminately assaulted by police simply for walking on a footpath. I helped treat a number of people who were pepper sprayed and had to rapidly relocate them to areas where they wouldn’t subsequently be trampled. I had many conversations with passers by, some in tears, who were shocked at the police brutality they witnessed.
The police advised they would pick up all property from the camp and take it to a warehouse. This was negotiated in good faith. I hear it is likely it has all been taken to the tip and been compacted. The kitchen facilities that were feeding everyone who needed a meal, the homeless we shared the space with, peoples personal property, and infrastructure which could have been put to good use.
The commissioner yesterday spoke in our space, in front of media, affirming that police needed to wear their name badges, and for us to report the ones who didn’t. Quite frankly, it is probably not possible as there were so many instances we couldn’t catch them all. Surprisingly, the ones without name badges seemed to often coincide with the ones who were hitting people, punching them in the head, pepper spraying them without reason, and in one case punching someone and calling her ‘a fucking mole’.
I was circling the perimeter on the outside of the barricade, checking in on the folks inside, and making sure people knew how to try and keep themselves safe for a peaceful arrest if they were choosing to stay. Someone passed me a camera and asked me to take a photo of the police with no name badges. I did so, and then they decided to charge me. Just me. One woman by herself between them and the barricades. I was then carried off, arrested for breach of the peace. Whether or not that was because I was taking a picture or because they perceive me as some kind of leader in a leaderless movement because I have happened to help facilitate some meetings, who knows.
I have heard first hand accounts of the people being evicted being punched in the head. Numerous times. Subsequently on Swanston St, when the police continued to charge people, many were pushed by horses, many were assaulted, respected activists were specifically targeted and they used snatch squads to arrest them. There are many injuries.
Our response. Putting flowers on police cars and singing ‘always look on the bright side of life’ as people were being trampled and pushed by police horses and riot squad.
Gosh, that is some dangerous stuff.
What I am proud of is the commitment to nonviolence I saw from everyone. From the amazing young activists who so proudly stood their ground to defend the community space that has grown up around them in this last week, to everyone I saw who was brutally picked off by police.
And what is the result – many people arrested, but released with no charges. If they were lucky they got some scratches and hours of detainment, for others, hospitalization. Many people for simply walking down the street.
And a big shout out to the police. You have just radicalized a bunch of people, and opened up the eyes of so many more to what others have been well aware of. Dissent is quashed in our allegedly democratic society. That is just ONE of the reasons we are looking for a new way. We are the 99%. We are peaceful, we are committed, and we are not going anywhere. And you just brought more people in to join us.