WikiLeaks protesters march in Sydney despite police intimidation

After a speakout at Sydney's Town Hall on Tuesday December 14, a large group of 1000 protesters successfully marched to Martin Place, despite numerous attempted police blockades.

Police violently assaulted four protesters, to issue fines for obstructing traffic, but it was police that were holding up the traffic for US TV star Oprah Winfrey, who had closed down much of the city to broadcast a show from the Opera House.

Related: Melbourne Wikileaks protesters march on British Consulate | Antony Loewenstein Blog from Sydney: Defending Wikileaks faces Oprah-obsessed police force | London IMC: Assange out on bail, Anonymous out in support | Ireland IMC: Photos from Australia House protest London

Some protesters voiced suspicions that the large police presence was to stop the protesters making it down to the Opera House. Winfrey's Australian broadcasts are widely expected to bring American tourists to Australia.

Protesters drew the link between the attempts to silence WikiLeaks and the attempt to silence their demonstration by the NSW police.

Many onlookers clapped for the march as it proceeded, and some even joined the procession.

"We were here to demonstrate for freedom of speech for Wikileaks, and our own freedom to politically assemble," Amy Thomas of Support Wikileaks Coalition said.

Patrick Langosch, a spokesperson for the coalition,said: "Citizens were violently brutalised by the NSW police in the act of arrest, in order to enforce traffic violations that amount to a $57 fine."

Ashley Blackmore of Support Wikileaks Coalition said: "Where are the Police that will police the Police?"

Daniel Jones of Support Wikileaks Coalition said: "Attempts to stop Julian Assange speaking out only strengthened our resolve to march today"

A woman who gave her name as Jenny, who is hosting a mirror site for Wikileaks, said: "We need a leak from Police command to find out whoever ordered this shocking police behavior"

Langosch said: "The police told us this afternoon they would not allow a march because there were not enough officers available to facilitate the march. We arrived to find police everywhere, including dogs, horses, motorbikes and riot vans, clearly it was an attempt to intimidate protesters rather than any actual logistical problems."

Protester Mat Ward said: "The media have quoted the police, rather than protesters, saying a small minority wrecked a peaceful protest. It's amazing that the media can smear protesters in this way even when they are defending freedom of speech and good journalism."



It sounds like the police are certainly out of control in Sydney. (Have they ever not been? I think you can argue there have been periods where policing has been more constrained)

Even though the required notice was not given for the march, given the numbers involved the police did not use their discretionary powers to allow the march to safely use the space available to get to their intended destination.

Use of the mounted police and dog squad can only be described as over policing. Reminiscent of the Askin years and the overly violent attitude of the NSW police to anti-war demonstrations in the early 1970s.

The heavy handed policing can clearly be seen in this picture gallery