By Joe Montero
This is an eyewitness account of what occurred today outside the IMARC conference (29 October 2019) in Melbourne.
There is a blockade disrupting the conference over the role of its participants in creating the climate crisis, and they have gathered at the Convention Centre to make connections and work out how to exploit Australia’s the world’s resources.
These companies are also criticised for their role in the violation of human rights, particularly those of indigenous peoples around the world, and the exploitation of labour. References were made to the experiences of First Nations Australians and, for example across Latin America and the brutality in West Papua.
This is the backdrop that led to the deliberate use of police violence to try to remove the blockade. It begun early, after an elder indigenous woman was stopped from an effort to call for calm in a tense situation. It was clear that police command had decided to physically force a clearing to create a corridor for the corporate representatives to enter the building
There was more to it. When they came up on blockaders from behind, some of the police, especially some on of the Public Response Group, deliberately sett out to hurt people. We witnessed attempts to knee individuals in the genitals, grabbing by the throat and strangling, punching, and on some occasions, the use of horses to hurt, rather than clear a path.
Capsicum spray was used, and it even affected some in the media.
There were more than 50 arrests. Some of these were were targeted because they were speaking through megaphones.
Although there was anger. It was contained and remained in line with determination to ensure this remained a peaceful gathering. Instead of physically retaliating and fighting the police, the blockaders focused on sticking together, linking arms and staying fast.
It was this that prevented the police from clearing the space and prevented, which meant that many of the delegates did nor get into the conference. The information coming out form the inside, told that there had been significant disruption to the proceedings inside.
Although the main effort was at the front entrance, there were blockades at other entrances. People held fast and did not battle with the police at these places as well.
The most likely reason for the violent policing strategy was to incite a violent response from the blockaders. This means that it was deliberately political in nature and aimed to create a propaganda stream, which focused on violence and hid the reason why people were there in the first place.
Who is responsible for this political decision? Most would expect that police resources should be used to protect citizens and not in this way, and it came as shock to those there who were not expecting it, and it raises questions about the connections between the corporations the political system and the police command.
It has proved to be a stupid strategy, making the police look impotent bullies, and at the same time, ensured that the blockade became a much bigger news story then it would have otherwise been. This has denied a corporate media fest to tell Australia how much we need to be generous to the mining and energy corporations.
The herald Sun, the Australian and the rest of Murdoch’s news Corporation media outlets did their best to misrepresent what really happened. This is normal form for them. After all, the media monopoly shares much bottom line interests with the targeted corporations, and it stands to reason that there will be a rush to protect its mates.
Much was made about some of the delegates being yelled at as they moved through the crowd. It must be made clear that none were touched and often assisted in finding a way out. They might have been made uncomfortable but none were hurt.
The blockade continues today and tomorrow, and it is anybody’s guess what will happen.