Occupy Melbourne Tent Monster "The Baron" was arrested after midnight on Wednesday night. Once again the absurd yet disturbing nature of State harrassment of this movement was highlighted. Many police clinically and very forcefully tried to remove the tent costume from "The Baron" as he stood his ground in a dignified and non-violent way. He insisted the tent costume was a form of political expression and was in fact a "protest sign". He refused to let it go despite painful force being used against hi. When they were unable to remove it from him they put in the divvy van under arrest whilst the frame was still around him.
Related: The Baron arrested -- Police lash out at Sarah (again) -- 10th Decemebr International Humans right day tent action at OM
To make matters worse a police after the arrest can clearly be seen pushing Sarah - the most high profile "Tent monster" who was publically stripped a few days ago to the ground, in a clear case of targetting. It seems with Ken Lay's encouragement that police are being given the green light to ramp up violence as "patience" has run out and police move to shut down Occupy Melbourne with a 24/7 police presence.
Harassment has esculated with one protestor being charged with offensive language whilst an officer swore at him!
Show some solidarity on international human rights day! - help the movement and the "the tents" fightback!"
At 1 PM on Saturday 10th of December get yourself to Occupy Melbourne's 1st Annual Tent Monster Fashion Extravaganza at the Flagstaff Gardens.
Come celebrate the latest trend in fashion at the Fabulicious Tent Monster Fashion Extravaganza in beautiful Flagstaff Gardens this Saturday starting at 1pm. Feel free to come wearing your very own tent designs if you wish or simply show your support.
Occupy Melbourne h...as put out a call for Occupy protesters around the word to wear their tents this Saturday for World Human Rights Day.
This call follows two separate incidents at Occupy Melbourne in which Victoria Police and Melbourne City Council officers stripped a young woman and then a young man of their tent costumes, leaving them on the ground in their underwear.
The tent costumes originally gained international fame as the subject of the ‘Tent Monsters’ incident in which several tents at Occupy Melbourne grew legs and ran away to avoid capture, literally running circles around authorities and becoming an overnight internet meme.
Occupy Melbourne protesters conceived the ‘Tent Monsters’ strategy to highlight the absurdity of the situation that has unfolded over several weeks, in which Melbourne City Council officers have been issuing Notices to Comply for tents, blankets, food, tarpaulins and other materials to remove them from the peaceful protesters in an effort to prevent the growth of the movement.
World Human Rights day will be marked in 2011 by thousands of peaceful coordinated actions around the world, including the global Occupy Movement. Twitter hashtag: #D10
Close-up video of assault during incident
Note the details of the assault against Sarah, the 20 year-old woman who was protesting peacefully according to vision and observations from eye-witnesses in the edited version of this video below. She is elbowed aggressively in the chest causing her to fall to the ground. Another part of the video (in your article) appears to show the perpetrator kicking her while she is on the ground. The eye-witnesses name the perpetrator and this appears to concur with the somewhat blurred vision of the name badge.
Redress through legal action or direct action?
Many people have been calling for complaints to the police ethical standards section regarding recent assaults on protesters. This is worth doing but problematic and unlikely to stop the present police behaviour. The Office of Police Integrity (OPI) has been disbanded. It previously heard complaints of this sort though it never upheld them. (See the report of the Human Rights Monitors from the G20 protests as one prime example) The OPI was part of the independent Ombudsman's office but relied on a section within Victoria Police, the Ethical Standards Department (ESD), to investigate complaints. The ESD is under the control of Chief Commissioner Ken Lay who recently on Jon Faine's ABC radio program justified the actions of his officers for there role in the sexual assault of Sarah a few days previously. He also praised them for their work in repressing protests. So he has already pre-empted the outcome of Sarah's complaint to ESD for the sexual assault charge.
What about civil action? A large group of protesters who were assaulted by Police during the shutdown of the World Economic Forum in Melbourne in 2000 ('S11') sued police. They were eventually paid out several hundred thousand dollars but this was subject to a confidentiality clause, which means the public will never know what happened. The state government (at the time led by Labor premier, Steve Bracks) funded the police legal costs and the payout in full. Since this litigation was launched two things have happened. One is that the Labor Government at the time amended the law so that police members could not be sued as individuals. The second is that, the law firm who ran this case, Slater and Gordon has taken on the Police Association as a client. Because of this, according to a report in the Herald-Sun, the firm will no longer accept cases litigating against police. There are always other legal means to explore. However, direct action which is well-organised and which have the support of many people would have more chance of succeeding either as an adjunct to legal action or an alternative to it.
Direct action has the advantage of being controlled by the people themselves and therefore is not curtailed by legal processes which are invariably biased towards the police and other apparatuses of the 1%. Today's tent monster parade is a good example of direct action. This looks unlikely to attract a large group of people though. If the police want to, they will stop the parade by bringing in dogs, horses, riot cops etc to close down Flagstaff Gardens. The protesters involved are well organised, experienced and creative though and will give the cops a run for their money and hopefully win the day. A demonstration involving 20,000 or more people would not be closed down in this way. More time is needed to achieve this. On the legal side, complaints to the ESD put the matter on record and when they are not resolved in a fair manner (which they never are in cases like this) they send a clear message to the general public about who really runs the police force and the role that they play in violently suppressing dissent.
Re: Another absurd and disturbing "tent arrest" but you can ...
Here's a more positive video from Sydneys Tent Monsters from December 10th
Occupy Sydney Tent Monsters go on a Mic Check Rampage - 10th Dec 2011