Indymedia: Just before dawn on April 1st a group of anarchists dropped a banner reading “COPS OUT OF REDFERN, OUT OF OUR LIVES” from a construction site at 90 Regent St Redfern. The building now being renovated had been a squatted social centre and a home for more than 10 people throughout November and December of 2010. Within the large city owned building, dubbed ‘The People’s Castle’, solar power, a free shop and free café were established and opened to the public. In mid December 2010 police evicted the building following a failed supreme court challenge to keep the social centre open. Sydney city council, who owned the building, claimed it would be open as a youth homelessness centre within 6 months. It has remained empty ever since.
The banner was dropped in solidarity with a planned gathering of indigenous rights activist to take place the same day at the fence where TJ Hickey was impaled in 2004, who planned to erect and defend an illegal memorial plaque in his honour.
The banner had recently been carried at the annual February 14 demonstration to commemorate TJ’s death, when hundreds of protesters marched through Redfern to express their hatred of a racist police force that systematically targets the aboriginal community. Through constant harassment and incarceration, police have attempted to force aboriginal people out of Redfern and Waterloo, to complete a brutal gentrification process under the government slogan of ‘cleaning up Redfern’, on behalf of landlords, yuppie’s and property developers .
TJ’s painful death was the spark of a rupture that exploded in Redfern, when Koori youth, sick of the constant police persecution , rose up against the constraints of fear and normality and confronted a police force exposed for what it was, an occupying military force. With bottles, bricks, fireworks and molotov’s, the young warriors who made a stand that night asserted their sovereignty against the occupying state, injured 40 riot cops and tasted their collective power.
In the 8 years since, the NSW government has spent millions arming and training the police for future outbreaks of unrest. In 2005 the NSW Public Order & Riot Squad was established and in 2007 they purchased a $700,000 water cannon.
As part of the NSW Police’s 150 year anniversary celebrations, a PR expo was held in Darling Harbour later on April 1st. On public display was their new helicopter, numerous stalls, and a demonstration of the riot squad’s tactics. The riot demo featured dog squads, mounted police, and plain clothed police throwing bricks at the riot pigs in various formations.
As soon as we arrived, we began handing out hundreds of anti-police fliers to passers-by, in which we outlined the repressive role these pigs have played over the past 150 years (and the previous 70 through earlier manifestations) as the armed defenders of early colonial and now corporate elites.
We also raided numerous police stalls and took all their propaganda, from police recruitment pamphlets (some directly targeting Kooris), to “Cops are Tops” stickers, to police fridge magnets and temporary tattoos, even puzzles for children featuring ‘Constable Charlie’ the penguin. The strangest of all was a leaflet for contest to “WIN A DAY WITH THE NSW POLICE FORCE”, a ‘prize’ that many would prefer to avoid.
When police began their riot show we promptly hung two banners over a wall directly overlooking the demonstration. One banner read “DISARM THE COPS” the other was a modified Coca Cola advertisement, which now read “ONE COP, BURNT IN A MOMENT OF PASSION” under a stencil of a burning riot cop.
After a couple of minutes on display, one self proclaimed off duty policeman attempted to take the banners and a brief scuffle ensued. After the angry ‘cop’ was pushed away, we maintained our position while hundreds of angry police looked on, not sure what to do.
Clearly not wanting to make a scene and look foolish on a big PR day, the pigs left us alone till the end of the mock riot when the police MC made reference to our banners, trying to make a joke of our message by calling us “entertainment”. Once we rolled up the banners and began to walk away, we realised there were a number of uniformed and plain clothed pigs on radios following us. We immediately decided it was time to get out of the area and quickly dispersed in different directions, before pasting up a couple hundred anti police posters throughout the city.
These small actions were carried out in solidarity with everyone who has been harassed and imprisoned by the thugs of the NSW Police Force and in memory of TJ Hickey and Roberto Laudisio, the 21 year old Brazilian student who was chased and murdered by NSW Police last month for supposedly stealing a packet of biscuits.
FOR A WORLD WITHOUT POLICE & PRISONS
All Cops Are Bastards