There was outrage in the community after the findings of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission’s (IBAC) investigation into the 2019 raid on iconic LGBTIQ bookstore Hares & Hyenas in Fitzroy were made public. Soon, support too poured in with some starting a trend on social media to with the hashtag #buyabook from Hares & Hyenas.

“I think it’s very sad for our society that police smashing a person to the ground and tearing their shoulder out of its socket is considered reasonable force. Please support Hares & Hyenas who are still suffering from this brutal invasion,” tweeted Fiona Patten MP, member of the Legislative Council in Victoria (Northern Metropolitan region).

Jeremy King, principal lawyer at Robinson Gill Lawyers, which represented the affected parties in the case, exhorted the community to show support to LGBT event promoter Nik Dimopoulos and Rowland Thomson and Crusader Hillis, owners of Hares & Hyenas, by buying a book from the bookshop.

Martin Foley MP, state labour member and minister for mental health, equality and creative industries, too joined in. “I know many people will want to be there for Nik and Hares & Hyenas. Bus as we cannot show our support in person I encourage you to visit their website and buy a book or a voucher,” Foley tweeted.

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The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby said it stands by the “victims of the incident and supports their ongoing legal request for the Director of Public prosecutions to review their case”. VGLRL said it encouraged community members to purchase a book from Hares & Hyenas.

Meanwhile, the Victoria police union doubled down in support of its members. “(The IBAC) findings in relation to this matter… is an important outcome for our members involved and some sober reading for those who judged them prematurely, who apologised on their behalf prematurely, for those opportunists who chose to drive an agenda because it was convenient and those who profess to stand for reason, but chose to rush to judgment,” the Police Association Victoria said in a statement.

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The IBAC on Thursday said that the Victorian Police’s 2019 raid on the Hares & Hyenas in Fitzroy and the injury caused to Nik Dimopolous were not linked to “race and sexuality”. The police were also cleared of using “disproportionate force” to arrest Dimopolous who was seriously injured in the incident. IBAC, however, found that Dimopoulos’ human rights were impacted and asked the Victorian police commissioner to take appropriate action against the officers.

The IBAC, state’s anti-corruption watchdog, had launched the investigation called Operation Lynd, into the conduct of Victorian police officers who had raided the bookstore in Fitzroy on May 11, 2019. Nik Dimopoulos, who was sleeping in an apartment above the bookstore owned by his friends, woke up, and assuming it was a gay bashing or home invasion attempted to flee to the street. The police tackled Dimopoulos, took him to the street and handcuffed him. He sustained a serious injury to his right shoulder.

Read the IBAC full report here.

Related: COVID-19 shutdown: Hares & Hyenas offer ‘Books by Bike’.

 

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