The 78ers Committee of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) has called for an investigation into the ejection of 78er Barbara Karpinski from the Sydney Cricket Ground. The committee in a statement asked the police to publicly apologise to Karpinski, if the incident, as alleged, was found to be true. 

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Karpinski, was wearing a T-shirt of a news photo of herself as a schoolgirl getting arrested at the first Mardi Gras in 1978 and holding a handmade anti-Putin and anti-war poster when the police ejected her from the Mardi Gras event at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), on Saturday.

Mardi Gras CEO Apologises

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger. Image: Facebook

In a statement, Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger termed the incident as “unacceptable” and apologised to Karpinski

Mardi Gras said that it was their understanding that the NSW police had launched an internal investigation into the incident. Star Observer has sought a response from NSW Police and will update the story when we receive it. 

The Mardi Gras 78ers committee’s statement was issued by Sue Fletcher, Helen Gollan, Penny Gulliver, Diane Minnis, Richard Riley and Karl Zlotkowski. 

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“The individual identified is a 78er Lifetime member of SGLMG, and as such is entitled to the respect and protection of SGLMG and its agents whilst attending events staged by SGLMG. This is particularly the case where the event was a ticketed, secure private function and the individual was seated in a reserved 78er seating zone,” said the committee. 

78ers Seek Clarification From Mardi Gras, NSW Police

The committee said that it was not aware of a ban on political banners or placards at Mardi Gras events. “The incident also raises concerns over the guidelines agreed with NSW Police for securing SGLMG events,” the committee said. 

The committee has sought a clarification from Mardi Gras and NSW Police on three issues – whether Karpinski was ejected from the SCG, whether there was a ban on political banners and if it was one of the conditions of venue hire; and the policies and procedures in place to prevent such an incident from recurring. 

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“If it is established that the incident occurred…, we would strongly urge that public apologies be made by NSW Police to the 78er involved,” the committee added. 

Pride In Protest Demand Community Forum

Karpinski’s ejection was not the only police action at Mardi Gras this year. The police arrested four Whistleblowers, Activists, and Communities Alliance (WACA) activists for entering the pitch to protest against police presence in Mardi Gras.

Pride in Protest claimed there were other attendees who were similarly ejected from SCG, but these could not be independently verified. 

Pride in Protest said they will move a motion for an open community forum on the police action.  “It’s clear that Mardi Gras and the police have created a culture of hyper-paranoia around political intervention due to legitimate left-wing protests, and now that culture has targeted 78ers and anti-war activists,” said Wei Thai-Haynes, Mardi Gras director and Pride in Protest member, in a statement.

 

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