Today, another protest against the detainment of Bradley Manning, and the crimes against humanity committed by the US government exposed by Wikileaks, took place in front of the US consulate in Melbourne.
As it was already the third time we managed to organise this legal form of political protest, basically a sit-in, we were familiar with some people involved, like the friendly and sympathetic receptionist, and some of the police. The building manager had changed since we’ve been there last time. While he seemed less angry than the last one, he still didn’t like political protest in ‘his’ premises.
The last sit-in lasted three hours, so this time we were well prepared to enjoy ourselves while being there. We had some music and food, and prepared some little scenes and speeches to make it a joyful happening. The cause, however, is less funny – Obama’s drone war, Bradley Mannings incarceration for years, most of it in solitary confinement, declaring Wikileaks and its confederates as ‘Enemy of the state’, the Grand Jury against Assange, who is held hostage in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Learning from their last experience, whoever was responsible to enforce mob law on civil protestors, decided on a faster course of action. And yo a more intimidating and finally violent approach. Police observing the protest initially were quite edgy, carried their guns and actively engaged in house-keeping, removing the flyers we patched to the doors of the embassy.
CIRT (Critical Incidence Response Team), the muscle of the corporate impostor government, arrived with more troops in riot gear, squads from a variety of police stations got into their gloves, ready to rough up the protest.
As I have some good reasons not to get into violently enforced laws, I took care of the belongings of some of my friends, left the building and awaited for the inevitable unlawful eviction. I positioned myself in front of the door, sheltered from the rain and got my camera ready. One of the police clowns approached me and ask me to move on, which I politely declined initially.
‘Move away!’, ‘Sorry, sir, you got no right to ask me to move on’. ‘It’s for you own safety, it could dangerous for when we remove the protestors.’ ‘So you’re intending to do something dangerous?’ ‘I don’t engage with your semantics.’
The police officer then asked me about the things I put down temporarily, suggested I could join my mates to be forcefully removed, so I moved a couple of metres away, into the rain, still waiting for the eviction.
I dropped the things I took care of next to a table belonging to the cafe next door, still in good sight of the four police clowns readying themselves for some action. One of the youngest of them came over and asked me for ID, which I politely declined with: ‘I don’t think I’m obliged to give you my ID.’
He moved back, and when I dropped my cigarette butt (I know, smoking is bad, littering as well, but, hell, I got nervous and uncomfortable), one of the clowns marched over to me: ‘Give me your ID, I have to fine you for throwing away burning litter!’ Luckily, I got backup in the ensuing attempt to contract me to accept a fine, and managed to remove myself from police, put the belongings of my mates into the car and chill for a while.
When we went to debrief into a cafe opposite the embassy, things escalated again. Our independent journalist demanded to identify the cop that pushed him during the eviction, and got done badly. As we still could see what happened, most went back to look after him, and they arrested a young woman, pushed several others to the ground, and took her and the journo on a ride.
Similar to other evictions, they simply drove them off the scene and dropped them somewhere in St. Kilda on the side of the road. When we regrouped with the arrested, the woman had gone into shock, and lay on the pavement in the rain. By the time ambulance arrived to take care of her, people with video evidence could show the medics how police had assaulted her.
The amount of laws broken by police, and their attitude was mostly shocking. In first place, removing the protestors from the inside of the building was unlawful – places of business are similar to public space, and removing someone wanting to talk to a representative of the US consulate in front of it, causing neither damage or danger to persons and property, not even following any sort of protocol, is unlawful.
The rough handling of some the protestors technically is assault, and arresting someone nominally, without a charge, and just dropping them off somewhere constitutes basically kidnapping. The Stanford Prison Experiment has shown convincingly that entitling people with a uniform effectively removes them from personal responsibility, and often of empathy, and turns them into beasts.
While we did our best to alleviate the psychological harm and trauma inflicted, and the bruises caused by brutal handling won’t last for long, it’s simply unacceptable to have people ostensibly representing the government acting like the muscle of the mafia.
We stood up to injustice in non-violent, lawful ways, and the authorities came down on us like thugs of a fascist, impostor government. Because that’s what they are. They get paid to inflict injustice on regular people, while we do it to stand up for a healthy, just society. It’s kind of sad that it takes some of us getting beaten up to make a tiny media blip, especially if it’s just in Murdoch press.
Yet without resistance, the next generation will be born into inescapable servitude, and no one will remember the god-given right to freedom, so many people in history have fought for. And as we are aware of the policy of intimidation to enforce pretend law, we will not give up.