6 Aug 2017 – At least four people were arrested on Sunday night, including an elderly man, as protesters occupied empty units marked for development.
People converged on High Street in Millers Point, which boasts stunning views of the harbour, allegedly using ladders to climb on to the balconies and hang protest signs.
They were shortly joined by police officers dressed in riot gear, who activists claim had to use power tools to break in to the building and arrest those inside.
Video taken by Lanz Priestley, who runs the tent city in Martin Place, shows police allegedly ‘drag an elderly gentleman down the stairs’.
Police raided a set of empty apartments in Millers Point on Sunday night after activists occupied them with the intention of handing them over to the homeless
A large group of officers arrived to move on the protesters, and riot police were called to remove the small group who had broken in to the heritage apartments
Mr Priestley told Daily Mail Australia six police officers were involved in removing the man, who he believes to be about 65 years old from the building.
‘To me, it was a clear instance of heavy handed policing,’ he said.
‘Six cops could quite easily have used restraining techniques to carry him down the stairs, but they just dragged him down.’
Barney, who lives nearby, claimed the man had been evicted from a home in Millers Point just six weeks earlier.
The homes were built as public housing for workers along the harbour, so they could live closer to where they worked, but have been slowly cleared out over the past three years.
Wendy, who moved in about 30 years ago and is the last person living on High Street, told a filming protester about 300 people had been moved out of Millers Point so far.
‘I find this very very hard to handle, I’m the only person left here now,’ she said.
The protesters were arguing that as the heritage-listed homes were left vacant, they should be used to house those sleeping rough in Martin Place.
It comes as more than 100,000 people are declared homeless throughout Australia, with nearly 30,000 of them being from NSW.
Mr Priestley told a fellow protester on Sunday night the tent city in Martin Place is ‘not only growing, it’s flourishing’.
‘In numbers, it’s only getting bigger,’ he said.
He told Daily Mail Australia the police interference, believed to have been ordered by the NSW Department of Housing was ‘absolutely outrageous’.
‘This [protest] has highlighted that in High Street alone there are 67 public housing buildings,’ he said.
‘A lot of them have been empty for a long time, and I hear there are 240 [vacant homes] in the area
‘Tonight, we have 59 people staying in tent city.’
Tent city (pictured) has been ‘flourishing’ according to Mr Priestley, who claims there are more and more people coming to stay in the central city location
A spokeswoman from NSW Police said officers were called to the street at about 4.45pm, where they claim people had forced entry into a vacant building and were refusing to leave.
‘Officers spent a number of hours negotiating with them as they barricaded themselves inside,’ she said.
Police entered the building just before 9pm, but by this point the protesters had left.
Four men who had been protesting from the street, in a group of about 30, were arrested for allegedly attempting to stop police from gaining access to the building.