Occupy Melbourne returned the favour on Robert Doyle by launching a non-violent "raid" during the latest Council meeting. An obviously uncomfortable Robert Doyle and councillors listened to a "mic check" delivered message from Occupy Melbourne, which incidentally is a pretty good summary of why the Occupation exists (its better than the draft declaration if you ask me).
The last few days have seen Occupy Melbourne develop some very creative tactics to prevent the convisgation of their property by the Melbourne City Council and Police. On Friday 25th of November after the Council served Notice of Compliance on the camp and came down with police protestors took their gear and left the park. However this wasn't enough a police and the police gave chase to the tents! One protestor, Sean Bedlam was arrested for "hindering council officers" whilst sitting on a tarp on the footpath outside the park.
At the 21st General Assembly of Occupy Melbourne held tonight a proposal to reaffirm non violent direct action was defeated. Specifically the motion attempted to clear up what was and was not appropriate action taken on behalf of Occupy Melbourne. The non violence advocated was for non violence against persons and property. This non violence policy was quite heavily defeated on the floor of the GA.
Independant journalist and stand up comic, Sean Bedlam is continuing making video's documenting Occupy Melbourne and its harrassment by the State.
Here is a short video of yet another council and police raid on Occupy Melbourne on November 21st which resulted in one arrest.
There was a fruitful discussion on the draft declaration at last night's Occupy Melbourne General Assembly. A member of the declaration working group invited feedback in the form of changes in wording relating to substantive issues with the document. Here are my suggestions:
DRAFT First Declaration of Occupy Melbourne
With the re-erection of tents and marquees at Treasury Gardens on Saturday 12th of November organised non-violent resistance has increased in the face of police raids on the Park. On Tuesday over 100 police arrested three Occupiers whilst removing the First Nations Embassy and Custom House. Later in the week police arrived to take down a marquee which had been named "The Shrine to Free Speech". Late on Friday 19th, police again used a heavy hand whilst working to enforce Melbourne City Councils "Compliance Notices" which effectively ban the protest from the park. However this time police were met with more organised peaceful resistance than they have seen since the day of the eviction from the City Square. Around 50 protestors linked arms around the collective sleeping tent(on a very rain stormy night) when police moved in. Standing strong, 8 people were arrested but released later in the evening. Whilst the police did manage to get the sleeping tent they were prevented from taking all the property they tried to remove. Read an account of the evening at the OM Digest who are providing excellent daily coverage of the protest.
Today (16/11/11), according to the OM Digest "at around 8, council officers returned with a much larger police support: four “Public Order Response” (Riot Squad) 4WDs, three unmarked police vans, three squad cars, two prisoner transport trucks and between 100 and 120 police officers". The police moved in taking down the Indigenous Embassy and Customs House which had been erected on Saturday in the Treasury Gardens. Three people were arrested during the raid for non-violent resistance. The charge is a council by-law “Hindering a council officer”. An emergency protest occurred at the Town Hall at 11AM.
The police and the Melbourne City Council deny protestors have been “evicted” but they are merely enforcing local by laws about camping by ordering the removal of structures. Of course the fact that Occupy Melbourne is an ongoing 24 hour occupation is ignore. The fact is that a “tent city” style protest requires structures so they are in effect banning this protest and any similar protests. Protestors have also been told to remove “objects and things” which is so broad to be ridiculous.The protest is not banned however an overwhelming police response will be called in if people do anything other than just stand there with no protest signs, equipment or protection from the weather! It is clear that "public space" is now only available for public protests in the most limited of fashion, meanwhile corporations are free to use their financial resources to dominate the landscape of our CBD.
The police defended the use of 100 police on the grounds they had to be prepared. Prepared for what, more non-violent resistance from a protest group which has remained steadfast in its use of non-violence since day one. This level of policing has only one purpose, to intimidate and harass dissent out of existence.
|Cops line up before the raid||Embassy being dumped onto council truck|
In addition the fact that the tent removed was an “First Nations Embassy” is being ignored. The tent was called the "Customs House" as it was issuing Aboriginal Passports as a statement that Aboriginal sovereignty on this country has never been ceded. Today’s police action was just another “move on” action by the state against Aboriginal people in the same way force has been used ever since 1788 to ensure the crown controls land use in this country. Indigenous elder and activist elder Robbie Thorpe labelled Australia a "Nazi dream" during the police action.
|The First Nations Embassy the night before the raid|
A flash mob descends on Coles in solidarity with workers on strike from the Baiada Chicken factory in Laverton, Melbourne. Baiada supplies major supermarkets including Coles under the brands Steggles and Lilydale Chicken. And supply fast food chains such as KFC.
Baiada workers have been killed and injured due to unsafe working conditions, the mostly migrant workforce are bullied into accepting terrible conditions, and many workers are paid as low as $10 an hour cash in hand, or employed as contractors.
Workers and community supporters are maintaining a picket 24-hours a day blocking entry to scab labour and trucks with live chickens.
Related Coverage: Support the striking poultry workers at Baiada -- Baiada workers not chickening out of a fight by Benjamin Solah -- Flash mob on Youtube
A lot of people have asked “what does Occupy Melbourne stand for”. In order to make this clearer I have gone through the available but incomplete minutes from the first 17 General Assemblies and grouped all political motions passed as well as listed targets for protests and workshops held. Below this I have also placed the draft declaration which is expected to go to the GA for consideration on Wednesday prepared by the Declaration Working Group. It would be interesting to read whether people think the declaration represents the motions passed at GA’s or not. Perhaps some of these motions could be also be highlighted by the media team as well when asked what OM “stands for”. It should be noted that I am sure more political proposals and action if GA’s had not had to constant ongoing harassment from the authorities.
For fans of political theatre, the Occupy Melbourne movement has already given us many moments of high drama, the General Assembly (GA) on Saturday 12th November was no exception. Within three hours there were moments of anger and passion including a stand off with cops and council staff and a practically all in shouting match contrasted with hours of calm discussion in large and small groups. After all this eventually that magical word consensus was reached on the decision to defy the Melbourne City Council’s compliance notices and erect “structures”. The divisions within the movement between socialists, non-aligned hippies, indigenous and non-indigenous, campers and non-campers, working groups and others etc all came to the fore but by the end we all stood united in our defiance to political repression and in our determination to continue our movement for justice.
Related:Photos of the day at Melbourne Protests Weblog