From today’s Sydney Morning Herald:
The Department of Education says it does not yet know how many students have skipped school to join APEC protests.
Police will be roaming trains, buses and the central business district as part of a crackdown on students who truant to join protests, the Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, has warned.
Mr Scipione again urged students to stay away from today’s protest for their own safety and warned that if they were playing truant there was a good chance the police would find them and report them to their school or parents.
The NSW police have also applied to have Saturday’s protest march declared “illegal”. This is a sure indication that they want to up the ante. As several leaders of the “Stop Bush Coalition” have been saying in radio interviews all week, this is about trying to intimidate people from joining the peaceful protests.
But it’s also worse than that, it’s part of a public relations “softening up” exercise. In my long experience it’s the cops who start the “violence” at protest marches. This forces those present to defend themselves or risk getting clubbed and doused with “pepper spray”. All this week the cops have been stopping people, including tourists, from taking photographs of the “rabble-proof fence”.
The NSW police seem to be spoiling for a fight on Saturday. By denouncing alleged “secret plots” to cause damage etc, they are preparing the general public to accept that “fact” that the cops will have a justification for thumping the bejeezus out of protestors.
The PR campaign is helped along by reports such as this one from Brisbane’s Courier-Mail outlining the expensive “security” blanket that’s been thrown around Dubya. Here’s a sample:
On board the planes were 50 White House political aides, 150 national security advisers, 200 specialists from other government departments and more than 250 Secret Service agents.
The president’s men were even believed to be bringing their own sniffer dogs.
Surely this is overkill. There’s been no public announcement of any threat to Bush, but his security detail will be heavily armed. There’s enough fire power here to topple a government…”hhhmmm”.
Mr Howard blamed the fencing through the central business district on protesters threatening violence.
“It’s not the fault of the guests in our country,” he said.
The fence stretches from King Street to Circular Quay and from George to Macquarie streets and will keep any protesters a long way from dignitaries.
He refused to say whether there was any intelligence warning of a major incident.
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