Occupy Melbourne held a ‘tentmonster’ parade and marched to the City Square today. Around 70 people gathered in Flagstaff Gardens with many dressed in costumes made of tents at around 1pm. The idea was to highlight the absurdity of recent actions by the Victoria Police Force in stripping protesters who have been wearing tents as clothing. The crowd then marched past the Victoria Police contingent who were sitting on chairs around an official campervan which is now stationed permanently at Flagstaff Gardens. The march continued through the middle of the city, stopping at Bourke St shopping mall where a speech was delivered on the systematic oppression of women; the trampling of human rights by the Melbourne City Council and Police; and the general injustices promoted by contemporary political and economic institutions. Protesters stopped outside the Town Hall and also briefly occupied the adjacent City Square (from which they were brutally evicted on 21 October). Marchers then proceeded back to Flagstaff Gardens. On the way, the ‘tentmonsters’ and their supporters had a short ‘rest break’ in the middle of a busy intersection.
The parade and march proceeded without incident. Police may have been caught off-guard. On the other hand, they may been seeking to avoid another public relations disaster after the alleged sexual assault of Sarah, a 20 year-old protester. She was stripped publicly by police and left crying during an incident earlier in the week and the video of the attack was broadcast around the world.
The Occupy Melbourne General Assembly was held at Flagstaff Gardens at around 4pm and was attended by approximately 100 people. The increase in numbers was no doubt due to the publicity provided by the Victoria Police after their indecent assault. In response to the incident, a group within Occupy Melbourne declared Human Rights Day 2011 (10 December) as ‘International Wear-a-Tent Day’. Several cities around the world joined in solidarity. Two unions including the Australian Services Union, which represents Melbourne City Council by-laws officers, attended the GA and pledged to provide material support for the occupation. Hopefully they can also help to do something about the council officers and their managers who have been participating in assaults together with police. Clearly officers have either been scabbing or coerced into committing serious human rights abuses – as well as putting their own safety at risk. Here is a selection of the twitter feed on #omel. It is presented in reverse chronological order beginning with the Town Hall stop.
In breaking news, the Melbourne City Council had allowed the erection of structures at Flagstaff Gardens for tonight. However, occupiers were raided by four police vehicles and a riot squad van just after midnight. They apparently managed to pack up the structures before the 1% mafia hit-squad struck. A toy princess monster was the only item kidnapped. (see attachment below) Several onsite tweeted that the Council and Victoria Police waited until after midnight so that they could not be accused of aggression on International Human Rights Day.
RT @Asher_Wolf At Melbourne Town Hall now. #TentMonsters #OMEL #OWS http://yfrog.com/h4sr9gwj
RT @Asher_Wolf #TentMonstersand other structures at #CitySquare #OMEL #OWS #OSYD #OLSX
RT @angelsavant RT@Asher_Wolf: Photos of #OMEL #TentMonsters at #CitySquare #OSYD #OWS #OLSX http://yfrog.com/mmkhcksj
RT @JaseCee #tentmonstersreturn to City Square http://yfrog.com/oefa4cfj #omel #ows #occupy #osyd
@Asher_Wolf My formal response. http://twitpic.com/7r3198 #FreezingColdSolidarity #OMEL #TentMonsters
"Respect human rights. Respect our right to free speech. Occupation is a form of protest..." #OMEL #OWS #OSYD #OLSX http://yfrog.com/obvmgxhj
2-headed #TentMonsters toting water-pistols (@VictoriaPolicedon't shoot, they're 8 yr olds.) #OMEL #OWS #OSYD http://yfrog.com/gyj7uolj
In tent in spirt - Treasury Gardens garment - protest view http://twitter.com/#!/MadeleineLove/status/145070121373794304/photo/1
#omel ingenious portable kitchen to feed the hungry #tentmonsters http://lockerz.com/s/163521190
#GoodNewsBitchesFunTimesComing “@Asher_Wolf:#TentMonster already dressed up, waiting for the tribe to arrive. #OMEL http://yfrog.com/hw4v4ttj
#tentmonsters #occupy #osyd ! #humanrightsday #D10 #OMEL #ows #occupy http://yfrog.com/gzt9qscvj
LOL...“@Asher_Wolf: If you're being robbed, assaulted, murdered right now - here's where@VictoriaPolice are at. #OMEL http://yfrog.com/esyszlj
Ri20 #OMEL ppl sitting peacefully in the shade in the park, no structures. Far too many police. http://yfrog.com/mmjqoqaj
Watch the march of the tentmonsters at bambuser.com/v/2198199 and the short version at…