Occupy Melbourne Resumes – 29 October 2011

Occupy Melbourne banner leads march along Flinder Street

A report on the day’s events has already been posted on Melbourne Indymedia, supplemented by updates on the Occupy Melbourne Facebook page.[Update: Occupation re-established … ] This post is essentially a gallery of photos taken at the initial assembly at the State Library, the march down Swanston Street, along Flinders Street and up Spring Street to the meeting point in the Treasury Gardens, followed by the relocation to Bowen Street at RMIT. (At time of writing the Occupation has moved to the State Library and settled in for the night.) Most of the photos should be self-explanatory, though unfortunately out of order. A few call perhaps for comment:
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West Papuans with flag at State Library
A small group of West Papuan refugees joined the Occupation at the State Library and could be seen at each stage of proceedings.
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Police dog squad at Treasury Gardens
There was only a small and unobtrusive police presence at the State Library – though this increased markedly once the march set off – but a quite extraordinary deployment at the stated destination, the Treasury Gardens, including horses, riot police, several divisional vans, and these dogs.
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Aboriginal flag leads march, accompanied by 'tranny cops'
The Aboriginal flag led the march for much of the way, accompanied here by a group of ‘tranny cops’ who had joined the march in Swanston Street, and are elsewhere seen providing a little theatre in the Gardens.
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Speaker uses rolled-up paper as speaking trumpet
This was resorted to when the PA system failed for a time…
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Miniature farmyard animals on window ledge at RMIT
These miniature animals provided decoration for a window sill at RMIT.
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See also Occupy Melbourne website – http://occupymelbourne.org/

Occupy Melbourne Day 7 – Police move in …

See video links at end of post, added later… (23 October – added a few frame captures to the slideshow from the video)(24 October – converted slideshow into gallery. Click on thumbnails for larger images.)
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Occupy Melbourne Manifesto

As mentioned in the previous post, we were not able to get down to the City Square by the 9am deadline, but we were in time (about 11.30am) to see the final stages of the dismantling of the tent city, and the deployment of riot police against the remaining occupiers by this time ‘kettled’ in the centre. This was followed by the use of horses and threat of dogs to clear the rest of the square and subsequently the entire intersection and stretches of Swanston Street northwards beyond the Town Hall and south to some distance that was not clear from where we were.
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Riot police overpower occupier, one has knee on his head...
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Police German Shepherd at protest

With memory cards full we left about 2.15pm, with a standoff continuing in Swanston Street just north of the Town Hall: an announcement on the tram seemed to suggest that this had turned into a march up Bourke Street…

The following images will not appear in any particular order, but should be self-explanatory. As before, the place to go is Occupy Melbourne and related Facebook and Twitter accounts. Not forgetting Melbourne Indymedia, of course.

Added a few hours later: anyone viewing the slideshow gallery above would have realised there was something missing. Hopefully the following videos will fill the gaps:
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Occupy Melbourne ctd – Day 6 and march on BHP Billiton – 20 October 2011

Protesters lined up with banners and placards in front of BHP head office
(It would be advisable to visit the Occupy Melbourne website and related media for the current situation, which is unclear at time of writing …)

Added 8.25am Friday 21 October: according to an Occupy Melbourne media release, notice to leave was served this morning at 6.58am with a deadline of 9am. Melbourne Protests will not be able to get there in time, but no doubt others will…

While preparations for the march were under way there was some police activity in evidence: uniformed and plain clothes officers and even two gentlemen in white shirts, but no indication of imminent action against the occupation, in spite of claims in the tabloid press (eg Lord Mayor gives notice to Occupy Melbourne protesters Herald Sun October 20, 2011 10:59AM) This evening has seen a media release from the occupation:

MEDIA RELEASE – 5:30pm THURSDAY OCTOBER 20th 2011
Victoria Police Speak to OM Protestors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector Bernie Jackson of the Melbourne East police station this afternoon met with Occupy Melbourne protestors today to discuss a potential eviction scenario.

Jackson stressed that Victoria Police does not have the authority on its own to prosecute the eviction, and instead will wait for Melbourne City Council’s instructions on how to proceed.

Inspector Jackson said that once an eviction notice had been served, a “reasonable time” would be given for protestors to voluntarily vacate City Square. “Reasonable time will be given in hours, as in a number of hours,” said Jackson. He qualified: “it’s not going to be in the middle of the night.”

Inspector Jackson further discussed Victoria Police’s likely course of action should an eviction order be issued. When the police arrive on site, protestors will be again asked to leave voluntarily. Anyone who refuses to leave will be forcibly removed from City Square by police officers.

Inspector Jackson told the crowd that he was satisfied with the current state of relations between police and the Occupy Melbourne protestors.

Inspector Jackson’s statement will be discussed at the nightly General Assembly, to be held at 6pm this evening on the north side of City Square.

Jackson was challenged by a number of vocal members of the crowd, including Indigenous activist Robbie Thorpe.

Mr Thorpe asked Jackson: “If the by-laws [relating to the Summary Offences Act’s powers for eviction] relate to the Aboriginal people and if so, how?”

Inspector Jackson responded that the police force was required to follow the directions of the Melbourne City Council with regard to the eviction of protestors.

Mr Thorpe later told Occupy Melbourne’s media liaison team that any eviction notice served on the protestors is likely to be immediately challenged in the courts.

http://occupymelbourne.org/media-releases/

Plain clothes and uniformed police at the occupationWhite-collar police
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One protester made a valiant attempt to engage some of the police in a hug, but with no takers:
Protester offering free hugs to police

Otherwise, life appeared to be carrying on normally, with some taking a rather late breakfast (or early lunch):
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Dog in tent eating from plate

The march to BHP set off at a quick march, escorted by about ten police, to chants of ‘BHP BP Shell/ You can all/Go to hell’ and ‘System Change not Climate Change’ amongst others:
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March setting off led by anti-BHP banners
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Head of march - banner 'BHP Billiton undermining your future'
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Banner - 'Bloody Huge Profits'
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There were even more police waiting at the BHP Billiton offices:

Police at BHP office entranceLong line of uniformed police across BHP office frontage
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The protest was organised by Friends of the Earth ACE collective, who had managed to prevail upon Dr Death to attend, standing in for BHP CEO Marius Kloppers:
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Puppet skeleton with gleaming white skullPuppet skeleton with FoE ACE members
Madeline Hudson of FoE ACE read a message sent by Arabunna elder Uncle Kevin Buzzacott to the BHP shareholders at the AGM in London, calling on them to reverse the decision to expand the Olympic Dam mine and instead spend their money on something better, and later wrapped up the protest with a rendering of ‘Eat the Rich’ in her character of No-Nukes Calamity Jane:
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Madeline Hudson speakingMadeline as No-Nukes Calamity Jane

Jim Green from Friends of the Earth and Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation also spoke, the latter quoting from a letter sent by Yvonne Margarula of the Mirrar people to UN secretary-general Ban ki-Moon after the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant – fuelled with uranium from Mirrar traditional lands (the text of this letter can be read here). There were also brief addresses from Ben Courtice, Friends of the Earth Renewable Energy Campaigner, Lucho from LASNET, regarding the activities of mining companies in Colombia and Chile, and Susannah, on the proposed gas hub in the Kimberley (see earlier posts on this site, eg here):
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Susannah addressing the protest
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Jim Green speakingDave Sweeney speaking
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Dave Sweeney and protester occupying road
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There was yellow-cake on offer, and leaflets for passers-by:
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Handing out pieces of 'yellow-cake'Handing a leaflet to a passer-by
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The remaining photos are probably self-explanatory. BHP Billiton will be holding its Australian AGM in Melbourne on 17 November, and it will be surprising if there are not protests in Melbourne to mark that occasion also…

See also BHP Billiton Watch.

A shortened version of this report which appears on Melbourne Indymedia, includes two brief media clips that could not be posted here.
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Aboriginal flag in front of BHP office main entrance
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Banner - BHP out of Colombia, Chile
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Reflection of protest in glass ceiling of foyer
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Toxic Traders - banner
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Placard linking BHP and Fukushima
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Puppet of skeleton with skullPuppet of skeleton with skull
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Banners at end of protest
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Another view of banners at end of protest
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Another view of final lineup
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Added 22 October: YouTube video by Jessie Boylan -

Occupy Melbourne ctd – Day 5, 19 October 2011

General Assembly on Day 5

The General Assembly in session on Day 5

The accompanying photos were taken over the space of a few hours from about 4pm on Wednesday 19 October: Occupy Melbourne at the City Square is obviously working, which is perhaps why some elements in society are making noises about it being time to close it down. There are accounts of the day’s news on Melbourne Indymedia and Occupy Melbourne websites, with the latter requesting circulation of the following media release:

Media Release- 19_10_2011

Award winner donates her $2000 prise money to Occupy Melbourne in opposition to Robert Doyles plan to forcefully evict Occupy Melbourne.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

City of Melbourne resident and Mayor Award winner donates here $2000 prise money to Occupy Melbourne in opposition to Robert Doyles proposal to forcefully evict the peaceful movement Occupy Melbourne.

Melisa Hughes, the winner of the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Writing Award has announced her intention to donate her prize money to the Occupy Melbourne movement and to the struggle for social equality.

Hughes, is a respected poet and social justice campaigner, she was notified yesterday (18th October) of her winning this highly respected award of $2000. She notified the leaders of the movement of her intention to donate the money as a result of the Mayor’s response to the occupation at City Square.

Hughes: ‘After reading an article in which the Mayor called for the authorities to use their eviction powers, I decided I did not want to accept an award from someone who is in favour of using violence to break up what is a peaceful, lawful protest.’

Much of the assembly was taken up with discussion of what to do in the case of an eventual eviction, with loud applause for the proposal that Occupy Melbourne should do all in its power to remain in the City Square, and a unanimous resolve to maintain the non-violent character of the occupation. A representative of the Indigenous owners of the land, which was never ceded, issued a formal invitation to the occupation to remain, and there was some discussion of the question of support for any individuals who might be arrested or issued with infringement notices. It was considered important to resist any moves by the media, for instance, to draw a distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protesters, and this led to debate over whether legal support should be extended to any who might depart from the declared policy of non-violence. In the end the proposal of support was passed by overwhelming majority – only two dissenting – with the addition of a preamble ‘bearing in mind the commitment to non-violence’, but undertaking unconditional support. There was also total support for a proposal that in the event of eviction, people would return the next day.
The assembly was still in session at 7pm, when the last of these photos were taken.
Tomorrow, Thursday 20 October, is the date of BHP Billiton’s AGM in London, and a day of action against the company in Australia. A march is planned from the City Square to the head office in Lonsdale Street.
On Friday there is to be a corporate scumbags tour. Details of these events on Melbourne Indymedia here and here.
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(It was interesting to see that the planes and bombs in the tree north of the square were still where they were left after the anti-war vigil on October 7 – see report on this site. Also impressed by the food stall: the food was very appetising, and free to all comers…)

2011 RISE Festival – Melbourne, 15 October – Not a protest, more a celebration …

West Papuan group Yile Yale on the big screen

Yile Yale from West Papua were among a rich program of musicians and other performers at the 2011 RISE festival at Federation Square on Saturday 15 October. The event was a bit overshadowed by Occupy Melbourne, and the audience, which to start with looked like being quite large, shrank drastically when a prolonged heavy shower hit the square just as things were really getting into a swing. And this was a pity, because there was a lot on offer, from traditional music of West Papua and Bali, through hip hop (including a guest appearance by US duo The Narcicyst and Omar Offendum, here for the Melbourne Festival) and spoken word, even a fashion show, the whole produced by RISE and compered by Fear of a Brown Planet’s Aamer Rahman and Nazeem Hussain.

The accompanying footage (being processed), along with the photos below, represents only part of the first half or so of the event, which is also pity, but hopefully is better than nothing, which seems to be what the mainstream media have provided…
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Occupy Melbourne – 15 October 2011 ->

Just a note: coverage of this ongoing action is being co-ordinated by Melbourne Indymedia with a live feed from the City Square… Please click here.

Update 16 October:
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Man with placard - Capitalism Isn't Working

The note above remains valid, but here are a few photos taken during the early stages of the Occupation, plus a few more, including the one above, taken just before 2pm on the way down to Federation Square for the RISE festival (which will be reported in due course). Some of these photos have already appeared as part of the Indymedia pool. The slideshow includes some shots of the preparations at the Queen Victoria shopping centre for the planned march on Max Brenner, and one rather mysterious view of a window in the Hotel Westin at the City Square: just visible is a tripod supporting a camcorder being used by police to video the occupiers in the square below… The banner supporting Chilean students was part of a separate protest being held in Swanston Street a little north of the City Square.
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Anti-abortionists on the march — face-off at Parliament House, 8 October 2011

Banner of CWRR

Under the banner of “March for the Babies“, anti-abortionists massed at Parliament House as part of a ramped-up campaign to force the repeal of laws in Victoria decriminalising abortion. (See for example The Age, 17 April 2010.) As in previous years they were met on the steps of Parliament House by a much smaller but equally determined number of pro-choice campaigners, including members of Radical Women, the Sex Party and representatives of Albury Choice, as well as unionists and members of the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) and Australia Asia Worker Links, the counter-rally being organised as before by the Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights (CWRR).

Police had divided the front steps of Parliament House into two sections separated by a chain in preparation for the opposing events, and were there in substantial numbers, including initially with horses. The pro-choice rally began at midday, with the “March for the Babies” not expected to arrive until about three, and filled the time with speeches, chants, and a mini-march around the block. MCs were Anthea Stutter and Peter Murray of FSP:
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Anthea and Peter conferring
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and the speakers included Marisa Sposaro of Radical Women, who discussed the issue of reproductive rights for women with disability (see also video from the ‘clinic defence’ on 23 July 2011):
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Marisa
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Kieran Bennett from Albury Choice (also represented on the July 23 video):
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Kieran
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Susie Reid, Women’s Health Goulburn North East, Wangaratta, who discussed issues for women in rural areas:
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Susie
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Cecilia Judge, Australian Services Union workplace delegate:
Cecilia
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Jade Eckhaus, Queer Officer, National Union of Students and Equal Love campaign:
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Jade
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Dandy Nicholson, Feminist Mothers Group:
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Dandy
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and Marinda Davis, tertiary student:
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Marinda, flanked by Sex Party placards
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Two women also spoke of their own experiences:
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Young woman describes her experiences
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One of the pro-choice marshals describing her experiences
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As expected, the anti-abortionists had mobilised far greater numbers for the occasion than the pro-choice – this being the reverse of the position in the community at large, as one speaker pointed out. The two rallies were mostly kept apart by a line of police and marshals on both sides, with only a few though persistent attempts by marchers to push into the pro-choice area:
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Man in pink floral shirt tries to push into pro-choice group
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To some extent the confrontation became a battle of PA power, and the din – which continued for the best part of two hours – was obviously painful for those police who hadn’t thought to provide themselves with ear plugs. In the event, both sides were probably able to hear their own speakers, but the “March for the Babies” were certainly forced to hear rather more of their opponents’ chants than they would have wished, and their own speakers were almost never audible on the pro-choice side of the divide.
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The above photos are a selection from the slideshow below. There is also footage of the event on EngageMedia, see link below.

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Head of "March for the Babies"

Click on image for video