One year on from the controversial eviction of Occupy Melbourne from the City Square, the Occupy Melbourne Legal Support Team has authored and released a qualitative report, entitled Occupy Policing: A Report into the Effects and Legality of the Eviction of Occupy Melbourne from City Square on 21 October 2011.
The Report documents protesters’ experiences of policing. The Report complements these eye-witness accounts with an account of the relevant laws.
The Report makes several key findings including:
The policing of protesters had harmful and lasting psychological, physical and political effects on individual protestors as well as the right to political expression;
The various justifications relied upon by Melbourne City Council and Victoria Police to authorise their actions raise serious and as yet unresolved questions of law. There appears to be a lack of legal basis for the actions to forcibly remove Occupy Melbourne protesters from City Square on the 21 October 2011;
There was extensive use of force by police in arresting and policing protestors, including the use of chokeholds and ‘snatch squads’; and
The police arguably acted outside of their legitimate powers and internal guidelines in detaining approximately 100 people pursuant to ‘breach of the peace’ powers. The place, conditions and length of detention varied, and protester statements attest to their disorientating and distressing effects.
The Report’s recommendations reiterate previous calls for an Independent Inquiry into the forcible removal of Occupy Melbourne.
The Report is published by the Occupy Melbourne Legal Support Team and is endorsed by Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre, Fitzroy Legal Service, and the National Police Accountability Project. It includes forewords from Cr Cathy Oke (Melbourne City Council) and Tamar Hopkins (Principal Solicitor, Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre).
“The level of police violence on the 21 October 2011 shocked the national and international community. The experiences documented in this Report speak to excessive and unnecessary levels of violence” said Rhys Aconley-Jones, Report co-author.
“The widespread and public inquiry called for by the Occupy Melbourne Legal Support Team to look at all levels of decision-making into the policing of the protest is not only necessary to restore the community’s faith that the rule of law still operates in Victoria, but is required under international human rights law where allegations of human rights abuses have been made” Tamar Hopkins writes.
The Report is available at:
Or http://www.occupypolicing.org/uploads/Occupy_Policing_2012_updatePRINT.pdf (35MB)