Our strength and resilience has ensured better policing

Our strength and resilience has ensured better policing

THE LGBTI community has again shown our resilience and capacity for collective action to get reform.

Less than 12 months ago, we saw distressing footage of cases involving police and Mardi Gras parade observers, with many alleging that police used a heavy-handed approach in dealing with Bryn Hutchinson, Jamie Jackson and others.

Both Bryn and Jamie had charges laid against them. Both faced the court system yet both have had their charges either dismissed or withdrawn.

RELATED: “Served justice”: police drop charges against Mardi Gras reveller Jamie Jackson

These occurrences, and others galvanised, our community in outrage and fear that we were returning to bad times when LGBTI people were at risk from police instead of under their protection. Many people reported inappropriate searches and the use of offensive homophobic language.

In the aftermath, I met urgently with the Police Minister and the Surry Hills Police Commander to demand action, and we held a community forum with Inner City Legal Centre, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, ACON and the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby. There was a lot of media coverage and many upset people contacted me. Rallies and protest letters, emails, posts and tweets followed.

NSW Police GLBT Corporate Spokesperson Superintendent Tony Crandell has taken seriously your demands for accountability and worked with Mardi Gras planning the 2014 festival. Police must make sure it is safe for everyone at Mardi Gras, including protecting us from homophobic abuse and violence.

The Surry Hills Commander will now control parade policing with local officers who know the community and who he has personally briefed. There will be better liaison with Mardi Gras staff and parade volunteers. There will be open streets after the parade finishes, with enough time for people to disperse.

Senior officers will oversee drug dog operations at parties, with all officers instructed to follow strict controls, and monitored by CCTV. A Fair Play campaign with tips for party goers has been produced to inform community members about the law and their rights. (Everyone should check it out: www.fair-play.org.au/)

Operational police don’t make the decisions about the police complaints system or whether the law allows drug dogs. We’ll need to keep working to get these reforms through government.

Premier Barry O’Farrell’s recent response to my questions in parliament on LGBTI and Mardi Gras policing indicates that the government acknowledges there was a problem last year and has taken some steps to rectify this. We will see how well this has been done throughout this year’s festival.

No one wants a repeat of those sorts of incidents. The work done since last year is a result of our community’s resolve and reflects our effectiveness.

While continuing to work for reform, including the establishment of an independent police complaints body, we should acknowledge our community’s remarkable capacity for collective action and the results we can achieve.

I look forward to celebrating the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with you and hope to see you at events throughout the season.

Alex Greenwich is independent MP for Sydney in NSW Parliament

RELATED: “Served justice”: police drop charges against Mardi Gras reveller Jamie Jackson



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3 responses to “Our strength and resilience has ensured better policing”

  1. Look I am sorry Alex, but you are living in a dream world, and a dream world so small it would fit out back in the chicken coup. What demonstrates progress to you, demonstrates a rotten state of affairs to me. I was part of a team that started the safe place campaign many years ago. That campaign was the mast head of new community policing, an initiative that saw the community “let the police in”. Well just for the record – we made a big mistake. We should not have let the police in at all. The deserve not our cooperation. They deserve not our support. Let the simple minded Nazi thugs suffer, alone, outside in the dark – OUTSIDE OUR COMMUNITY AND WITHOUT OUR SUPPORT. Twenty years have taught me enough! And for any plods reading this – Get out of my life you Nazi simpletons.

  2. the video footage showed very clearly assault and battery and in the case of the young 18 year guy being thrown to the ground WHILE HANDCUFFED amounting to torture. Any civil prosecutions? NOPE. Black deaths in custody continue. There is a deep seated and troubling culture within the NSW police FORCE. The young brazilian mauled and murdered by EIGHT officers with 3 cans of exhausted pepper spray and tasered while handcuffed and screaming that he couldnt breathe for stealing a packet of biscuits?! Any prosecutions? NOPE. sorry murder is murder. There can be no justice until police are prosecuted like any other citizens. In the state of victoria a mentally disturbed 15 year old is shot by 3 to 4 officers at point blank range. Any prosecutions..? nope Murder is murder. criminals with a badge.

  3. This is good news and well done to Alex Greenwich, progress is being made.

    Just be aware, Supt Tony Crandell ‘handled’ our case and displayed a total inability to investigate the matter or to come clean.

    In our matter, Rose Bay Police -instead of following the law and helping my partner and I when we went into Rose Bay for help, they decided to direct me to drive my partner to an ER Ward knowing I may be over the limit (I had responded to an emergency call & drove to get my partner after a vicious assault, and went to the police for help – big mistake). Rather than help us, Rose Bay Police readied two colleagues to come chase after us in an attempt to score an easy arrest.

    The Officers at Rose Bay asked for my drivers license at the front counter and they ran it through the RTA system, we know this as I ordered a copy of the report. But incredulously we later hear, via Supt Crandell and his final report, that Rose Bay Police now claim that they didn’t think I was driving. He says this in his report. So go figure – Police ask me for my drivers license, they run it, but at the same time they claim it never occurred to them that I drove there. Of course its all lies, they told me to drive my partner to an ER Ward and the same police are seen on CCTV watching me drive off from the Police carpark.

    Supt Tony Crandell knows this, but his report, signed by him, says in black and white that these Police didn’t know I was driving right after they just ran my license. So what faith can anyone have in Supt Tony Crandell when he actively takes part in an effort to hide the misdeeds of his minions?

    The two Rose Bay Police who chased after me for this easy arrest (that was later ruled illegal by a Magistrate) abused my partner in front of me. They told him to ‘piss off fag’ and to ‘f_ off fag’ as he objected to my arrest – just after we had been in the station for help. Rose Bay Police then assaulted my partner back at the station when he went back there asking where I was.