There isn’t a great deal to say in this quiet week after the NSW cops were promising that all Hell would break loose on the streets of Sydney as crazed anarchists and easily-duped schoolies ran amok in a pointless protest against the evils of globalisation and the festering sore that is the occupation of Iraq.
the main rally organisers posted this calm message announcing the success of their protest action:
10,000 protesters crowded in to the Anti APEC rally at Town Hall this morning far exceeding the estimated 5000 expectations of the rally organisers. Many of those participating said they were determined to attend, galvanised by the police harassment and threats.
George St is sealed off by police vans at the Queen Victoria building blocking the rally and shoppers alike. Police have planned that these vans will serve as mobile prisons if violence breaks out. Yet the police seem to be the ones promoting the violence with displays of water cannon and riot squad mobilising. Rumours abound that undercover police agitators are likely to try to provoke incidents. Certainly police have acted in a partisan manner in their treatment of those who support the rally confiscating banner poles while, in contrast, leaving those few protesters in support of APEC alone.
The rally has reaffirmed its opposition to violence and has expressed their right to politically mobilise in a peaceful manner against the war mongering, anti-worker and anti-environment policies at the centre of the APEC gathering.
The rally is extraordinarily diverse in attendance from young and old, with placards and flags highlighting a broad range of issues from a wide range of social movements, and with the stated determination to march along the police lined route, to sit and hear further speakers before ending up with a further rally in Hyde Park.
Of course the cops said only 5000, but the Australian news reports I saw in Aotearoa said at least six to eight, possibly more. It was quite dull for the hyped-up media types who descended on the Sydney CBD expecting lots of protesters’ blood to flow. At the end of the day all they could say was that the cops got it wrong and that the marchers had won the moral high ground.
In the end the Saturday protests were peaceful and only a handful of people were arrested. But what I find most interesting is this frank admission from the senior NSW cop, Commissioner Andrew Scipione, that the heavy police presence was a factor in detering people from showing up to the rally.
Despite the arrests, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says the majority of the thousands of protesters in central Sydney behaved peacefully.
Commissioner Scipione says the massive show of force by police and the poor weather led to today’s successful outcome.
“It certainly caused numbers to dwindle, in fact it surely caused numbers not to turn up,” he said.
“But more importantly, I think it was the combination of the show of force, the police were out there in big numbers, and we don’t apologise for that.
“We always indicated that we would be there, in sufficient numbers to be able to act swiftly against those that broke the law.
“So was that overkill? I don’t think so.”
This is an outrage. Here we have the state’s most senior cop, a well-paid public servant, admitting that the police presence was a political gesture designed to impact on the success of a peaceful protest march. The cops were acting as paid bullies and bouncers whose sole purpose in fencing off half the Sydney CBD and parading in riot gear with monster boys’ toys including a $700,000 water canon, was to prevent a peaceful protest against international capitalism, death and destruction.
Oh, and nothing happened at APEC either. There was a piss-poor statement of concern about the environment and global warming, but no action to stop it. Why not?
Well, the interests of the ruling class are in rampant profit taking and pillage. If the environment gets raped in the process, what do they care. The armoured limos and first class air travel are perks, who actually pays for them and the damage they do to the planet is none of our business.