RAC Press Release 30th May 2011The Refugee Action Collective has condemned violent and over-the-top tactics by police at a protest at Maribyrnong Detention Centre, which left several protesters in hospital. Around 300 people attended the protest, calling for an end to Mandatory Detention.
After a rally at the detention centre, demonstrators headed down Hampstead Road, which had been agreed to by Victoria Police. It was at this point that police attacked the march without provocation, arresting one demonstrator and subsequently riding horses into the crowds. Two people were taken to hospital after a horse fell on top of people whilst charging the crowd.
Daniella Olea, one of the protest organisers, said: “The Police provocation and violence was completely uncalled for. They were aware of the route of the march as I myself liaised with the Sergeant in charge. We were on the side of the road suggested by police and we had marshals on site directing people on the agreed route to Highpoint Shopping Centre. The police were fully aware of our intentions to march.”
“The excessive intimidating presence of police on horseback, police dogs and riot police shows unnecessary force on people expressing their concerns and their right to protest” said Olea, who is a spokesperson for the Refugee Action Collective.
After police refused to let the ambulance in if the protest stayed on the road, they eventually let the ambulance in and the two protesters were taken to hospital.
The protest marched to Highpoint shopping centre and unfurled a banner hung on helium balloons reading “free the refugees”.