Check out THIS report from the ABC about yesterday’s march calling for justice for TJ Hickey, the Aboriginal teenager whose death ten years ago sparked riots in Redfern. In my opinion, the report is totally misleading. I was there for most of the march, and didn’t witness any disruptive behaviour, let alone people intentionally walking into oncoming traffic.
The only thing I saw was an old man at the back of the group who was keeping to the left as asked, but wouldn’t move onto the footpath (as was his right, being in the march), and people at the front of the group who were not told early enough to keep to the left. I saw this happen, as only after the march had moved form Redfern did the Police at the rear call out to have the protesters move to the ‘side’. Since the march was already stretched out, it took a bit of time for the word to spread forward, and even then the voice over the loud speak was calling to move ‘to the side’, only adding to the slight confusion. I heard no Police announce the correct reuest over their loud speakers.
Personally, I found the Police to be anything from agreeable, the fellas on the motor bikes, to slightly belligerent, as were the fellas on push bikes, right from the start.
There were people there out to cause trouble, but these were young fellas, mainly, from up the road at Enmore’s Anarchist Bookshop. This guys were the ones with the real anti-police mentality, instead of the dignified stance the Indigenous people in the crowd took.
For example, when the Indigenous elders were asked to move away from the road, the would stand on the edge of the lanes provided. I witnessed, and photographed this many times. This is not what the ABC would have you believe, citing Police Commander Luke Freudenstein backing up claims that protesters walked into oncoming traffic, and disobeyed orders to move. This despite clear evidence from the ample cameras on the ground that no such disobedience took place – at least not intentionally.
Watch the report at :40 seconds in, when you can see a Police officer on a bike casually maintaining the protesters at the edge of the lanes provided. This was just prior to the scuffle you also see on the report at :27, when the head of bicycle POlice can be seen pushing a photographer without provocation. I was just out of shot when this happened, and the same thing happened to me – Police being pushy without reason, in my case for standing on a footpath.
I probably took a couple of hundred photos over the two and a half hours I was at the march, and in not one can you see a protester being agressive, let along ‘walking into oncoming traffic’. And I should add that in none of my photos does Commander Luke Freudenstein appear – I didn’t see him around, and I spoke to a number of Police, many you can see appearing repeatedly on television and in my photos.
So, since there were at least twenty photographers present on the day, I can think it would be fair to call for any evidence that Commander Freudenstein was on the ground at all during the march. You can see that in his press grab, he is at Redfern Police LAC, but long after the march has left.
It’s because of this that his position can’t be trusted, and I would call for any Police who personally witnessed disruptive, disobedient and chargeable behaviour to release the footage from chest-mounted cameras which were seen on some officers.
In the mean time, I remain unconvinced.
I’ve since spoken to more marchers seen during the report, who followed the march until its conclusion. It’s their opinion that the behaviour of the marchers did not change, and that what appears to be an arrest of a man during the report led to no such thing. The man has yet to be contacted by Police, as of this moment, Sunday the 23rd.