At about 6am this morning 200 police evicted about 100 people at the Sovereign Embassy at Musgrave Park in Brisbane. The police action was under orders of the Brisbane City Council who say they must move on so that the Greek Panyiri Festival can use the park this weekend.
Last night union members arrived to erect portable fencing as a security barrier in respect of the Panyiri Festival organisers, whom they say had agreed that the camp was not an impediment to the Festival. On Saturday Mayor Quirk met with the embassy members, but they declined to move off their own land at his request.
As the police action started more people arrive to support the protesters, accompanied by a large media contingent. The police pushed the media back so that their view of the police action was inhibited, but social media photographs and comments on the action continued to trickle out from the participants. A number of people were arrested, around 30.
Once the camp inhabitants were evicted, they began a march on parliament house, where the Premier and his LNP members were preparing for a massive garden party to launch their recent election victory. The Premier refused to talk to the crowd, who took up a position at the Speakers Corner (ironically outside parliament, safely beyond earshot of any politician).
The crowd then marched through the city to the Watch House awaiting the release of arrestees. Organisers vowed to rebuild the embassy.
The police action and eviction has drawn criticism from commentators, many of who are old enough to remember the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era, likening the action to Joh's tactics. During the 1970s and 1980s Joh notoriously used the police as his private army to suppress dissent. It became difficult for known activists to fraternise in public without police harrassment and on Joh's retirement hundreds of Special Branch files on protestors were allegedly shredded.
Mayor Quirk's comments today that the camp members were "professional protestors" is reminiscent of the kind of bizarre comments Joh used to make about the democratic right of protest to unjust government.
Council workers extinguised the sacred fire with a hose at about 1pm.
***A petition has been establish to call for the reinstatement of the embassy***