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 -