Police violence, racism and the media.

Hey everyone.

I was at yesterday’s Sydney rally, and want to congratulate everyone for holding such a successful anti-war action, despite the racist provocation and heavy-handedness of the police.

The police and the media have portrayed the demonstration as having been “hijacked” by “a group of Middle Eastern males”. What they didn’t report is that the police were very consciously targeting young people of Middle Eastern background and making arrests for ridiculous reasons such as swearing, which is what provoked the violence in the first place.

What was probably the most violent action – the chair-throwing at Town Hall, was provoked by a TRG (Tactical Response Group) officer tearing the hijab off a young Muslim woman’s head Another student, a girl of probably fourteen, was slapped in the face by a TRG officer.
Actions such as these make people angry. We were already angry – angry that children, women and men in Iraq were being killed by US bombs as we were protesting – and police racism and violence, needless arrests of very young students, only served to fuel this anger.

I just hope that the police and media’s goal – that of separating the Middle Eastern and Islamic students from the Australian students – was not successful. To say the protest was “hijacked” by young Arab men is a racist lie. The protesters were angry – and the young Middle Eastern students, who have to deal with police racism every day, and who are worried and outraged about what’s happening in Iraq, were very understandably hostile to the huge police presence.
I also hope that the police force’s goal of demoralising young people – by holding us between lines of TRG and mounted cops for three-fucking hours – didn’t work. They can not take away our right to protest this war – they say they’re fighting for “democracy” in Iraq – is this democracy?

We can’t allow them to use the media to divide us into racial groups – we were all there, standing together, for the same reason: to stop the war on Iraq. And we can’t let them use this to destroy the civil liberties of the people and take away our democratic right to protest – which is why we need to rally again next Wednesday.

We need to make sure the April 2nd rally is even bigger than the rally on the 26th – this will send the message loud and clear to the Howard government – and the NSW police and media – that we refuse to be intimidated into silence while innocent people are being murdered in Iraq in our name. The Police Commissioner has said that we can’t have a permit for April 2nd, but we have already put enough pressure on him today – by telling the media what really happened yesterday – that they have agreed to meet with Books Not Bombs tomorrow and negotiate.

We’re countering Dick Adams (Police Commissioner) demand that we guarantee that the protesters “behave” by demanding that he guarantee the police, and especially the TRG units, behave, and not act in such a confrontational, provocative manner.

We should demand an independent inquiry into police behaviour on Wednesday, and call on parents and teachers to come along to support the students and monitor the actions of the police.

Now more than ever, we need to stand together and protest this injustice – the injustice of war, and the injustice of having our civil rights snatched away from us like this.