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Police protest behaviour “juvenile”
Left-wing activists have attracted criticism for their conduct during a protest against NSW Police in Sydney last week.
The rally, organised by queer activist group Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH), marched from Taylor Square to Surry Hills Police Station on Friday night to protest the heavy-handed tactics of police on parade-goers during Sydney Mardi Gras.
CAAH invited representatives from the Greens and the Indigenous Social Justice Association to speak, but far-left protests groups the Socialist Alliance, Anonymous and Socialist Alternative also made their presence felt, handing out leaflets and waving signs reading “no justice, no peace, fuck the police” and “gay bashing is a NSW police tradition”.
A large banner held by anarchist activists reading ‘all cops are bastards’ drew anger from protesters after it was prominently displayed outside Surry Hills Police Station, with many asking the group to take the banner down.
CAAH co-convenor Karl Hand attempted to distance the rally from the banner’s sentiments, saying that while he supported people’s right to freedom of speech, he thought the banner was “juvenile”.
“Our demands during the protest were really clear – hold an external investigation and stop the bashings. We really tried to put forward demands that would appeal to a large cross-section of people. I think those signs were counter-productive – that banner wasn’t a big part of the rally and nobody spoke like that,” he said.
A 31-year-old homeless man was arrested at the rally for offensive language, offensive behaviour and failing to comply with police directions – a move that angered some protesters.
“He was clearly unwell – he was actually fine until police started antagonising him, and once they made him upset he started screaming. It was absolutely inexcusable that police would respond in that way, especially at a rally like that,” Hand said.
Fellow CAAH co-convenor Cat Rose said she believed police “went to the rally with the intent of making an arrest”.
“I think there was a motive behind it, they waited until most protesters had left. If somebody swears at me I don’t grab them and take them away in a van. It was an attack on all of us who spoke out,” Rose said.
Police estimated 1000 people attended the protest, with organisers putting the number at almost 2000. Around 40 police accompanied the rally to Surry Hills.