Over 100 police on 5AM on October 23rd, violent evicted Occupy Sydney from Martin Place. The raid occurred within 48 hours of the similarly violent eviction in Melbourne signaling a major escalation of the Occupy Movement within Australia. Over 40 protestors were arrested during the raid. Although limited footage and pictures have emerged due to both the timing of the raid but also clear police attempts to prevent people filming the arrests, it is clear that the raid was violent. This footage from Sky news and WA Today clearly shows protestors with bloodied faces and hog tied with plastic ties after their arrest. An interview with Mark Goudkamp on the ABC outlines clearly that police punched and assaulted protestors during the raid. This photo on a Herald Sun story demonstrates true nature of the raid with a young woman hog tied after her arrest surrounded by several large burly cops.
Related: Occupy Sydney attacks police and responds to criticism!
According to the ABC protestors on Sunday at a mass meeting at UTS have vowed to return but the form of the protest is not yet clear. A defiant We will be back video of highlights of the week’s occupation has been posted on Youtube. On the ABC online Occupier Elsie Kennedy is quoted as saying "The reason that we're not going back into the occupation of Martin Place immediately is that we want to strengthen our movement," "We want to take the time to strengthen our movement; we want to take the time to do outreach to the suburbs, do outreach to unions, do outreach to other organisations."
Only 2 protestors face criminal charges after the raid of assaulting police. 29 protestors were given infringement notice for not obeying the local law displayed on a sign in Martin Place forbidding camping. That the legal penalties against these protestors is so minor only highlights the excessive use of force involved. Simarly in Melbourne nearly all those arrested were not charged but simply detained, with many driven and dumped further afield in the Melbourne suburbs. That such excessive force has been used highlights that the real aim of these raids is to terrify and disband the Occupy movement before it can build into a real force for social change in this country.
Clover Moore, Mayor of Sydney is quoted on the ABC online as stating “The city was not informed ... nor gave any direction to the police to act against the protesters early this morning.”. Raising questions about who ordered the raid and why it was timed to coincide with the evictions in Melbourne. Have these evictions been co-ordinated either for the Queens visit or to clear up protests before CHOGM next week in Perth? Ultimately it shows how terrified the Establishment is of a united opposition movement growing that demands economic, environment and social justice against the insane demands of the capitalist profit system. It will be fascinating to watch how or whether the Occupy movement can rebound from these acts of State violence in Australia. Watch this democratic space!
Greens NSW have condemned the attack with David Shoebridge MLC saying "Conservative State governments in both Melbourne and Sydney have now sent in riot police to shut down the occupation protests and a disturbing pattern is emerging of police being used to crush peaceful political dissent."