Melb: Report on the Melbourne Cup Disruptions for Manus Refugees

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8 Nov – RISE: Refugee Survivors and ex-Detainees called for a Day of Action on November 7 in solidarity with over 600 refugee men who are currently blockaded inside the former Australian-government run detention centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The Australian government imprisoned the men on Manus as part of their despicable policy of mandatory detention for all refugees who tried to enter Australian territories by boat.

The detention centre has been officially closed by the Australian government and all essential services have been cut including water and electricity. Papua New Guinea police and military have been preventing food and other essential items from entering the detention centre. The Australian government are refusing to take any responsibility or duty of care for the refugees and have been actively blocking other countries from accepting them, insisting that the men must move to a new centre that have been built on Manus. This centre is not safe nor is it equipped to meet the needs of the refugees who are justifiably fearful of being attacked by angry locals who do not want the refugees in their communities. As a result of this situation the 600 men are refusing to leave the Australian detention centre and have been calling on the international community to intervene and help them. Conditions inside the detention centre are grim – no food, no water, no sewage, no electricity and no medical facilities.

The Day of Action was called for November 7th to coincide with the annual Melbourne Cup, a high profile international horse racing event in order to generate maximum publicity. In Narrm / Melbourne, activists responded to the call with a diverse series of actions…

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#SanctionAustralia banner drops by the RISE Team and volunteers in front of Flemington Racecourse (where the Melbourne Cup is held) as well as East Link and City Link toll roads. (source)

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On the outskirts of Narrm / Melbourne, a banner reading ‘SAFETY 4 MANUS MEN’ was dropped from a bridge along the highway to provincial city Geelong. (source)

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In the north-eastern suburbs of Narrm / Melbourne, a banner reading ‘MANUS = CRIME’ was displayed alongside a busy highway. (sent anonymously)

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At Flemington Racecourse where the Melbourne Cup was being held, two women activists from the group WACA (Whistleblowers, Activists & Citizens Alliance) entered a construction site on the racecourse grounds and scaled a crane that overlooked the middle of the stadium where they unfurled a banner that read ‘SOS: EVACUATE MANUS NOW!’ The women were able to successfully negotiate with the police and agreed to climb down from the crane under the condition that they would not be arrested and that the banner would stay on the crane. WACA later released a statement regarding the action, here is an excerpt from it:

“We are joining with others across Australia to demand that the government evacuate the men on Manus immediately and bring them to safety for processing.

This is an emergency. This is an humanitarian crisis. We refuse to sit by whilst the Government, with the complicity of the Labor Party, puts over 600 men’s lives at risk.”

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Also at the Flemington Racecourse, members of WACA ran out onto the racecourse itself and unfurled a large banner that read ‘FREE THE REFUGEES!” before being evicted by security.

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In Ascot Vale, a group of anarchists caused major disruption to trains transporting people to the Melbourne Cup by blocking the railway tracks with a car. The car was covered in slogans in solidarity with the men on Manus and against the Australian government’s barbaric policies towards refugees. A woman padlocked herself inside the car and the car’s tires were punctured to make its removal from the train tracks more difficult. Signs and a banner were displayed prominently highlighting both Australia’s cruel treatment of refugees and also Australia’s celebration of the Melbourne Cup, an event that glorifies cruelty to animals. Police attended the scene and began the time-consuming task of unlocking the woman from the car and removing the car from the train tracks, resulting in lengthy delays in trains services to and from the Melbourne Cup. Unfortunately 4 comrades were arrested, it is not known yet what charges they are facing however all 4 were released later that day.

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Melbourne: Statement on the Queer Anarchist Disruption of the Coalition For Marriage Campaign Launch

On Saturday 23 September 2017, a group of 15 queer anarchists (including sex workers, drug users, disabled people, people living with blood borne viruses and survivors of child abuse & spiritual abuse perpetrated by fundamentalist christians & churches) disrupted and intervened in the launch of the national Coalition For Marriage campaign. The Coalition For Marriage is a front group for the fundamentalist religious organisation, the Australian Christian Lobby.

Our action was undertaken by 8 undercover anarchist/ activists in our most conservative clothes, who infiltrated the event. In an attempt to deprive the religious fundamentalists of a platform, and to make their event as uncomfortable as possible, we engaged in a series of constant disruptions, beginning with two people unfurling a banner reading “Burn Churches, Not Queers” as the 1000 strong supporters of Christian fundamentalist ideology entered the venue.

The second disruption involved an activist running on stage during the opening speech by the repulsive maggot Lyle Sheldon (the CEO of the Australian Christian Lobby) and attempting to unfurl a banner reading “Love not Hate”. The activist was set upon by overenthusiastic security who violently detained her and removed her from the venue.
15 minutes later, 3 activists in the audience disrupted the homophobic whining of Cella White, a “concerned mother”, who claims her son was encouraged to “wear a dress to school” in lieu of “traditional boys’ school uniform”. One activist began yelling “Death to Christian fascists”, and “God raped Mary, she didn’t consent and should have aborted”, whilst 2 women enthusiastically tongue kissed.

As security removed the 3 people, who were yelling “Crucify Christian fundamentalists”, “Christian fascists” and “Death to homophobes”, 2 more activists took the opportunity to occupy the stage. One of the activists took over the podium and yelled into the microphones, “This isn’t about free speech, would you have given the Nazis a platform?”, before the 2 women activists began kissing. The 2 women were also removed by security guards. The Christian audience booed us, we heard people yelling, “Satan is behind thee”, and “Rot in Hell”.

As we were escorted from the venue, a woman attempted to destroy the Marriage Coalition’s merchandise table. As several people were evicted from the venue, they warned members of the Coalition For Marriage, “This is War!”, and “We know who your leaders are and where they live!”. In addition to the disruptions, 6 of us also stood at the entrance/ exit to the venue with queer Antifa flags.

We undertook this action, not because we necessarily believe in marriage, or the power of voting for constitutional reforms to improve our lives, rather, we believe the Australian Christian Lobby to be a fascist group, whose vile and hateful rhetoric and polices have the ability to influence public discourse and policy and to further persecute and criminalise the already highly marginalised and stigmatised communities we belong to.

Similarly, members of the Australian Christian Lobby have worked with racist and fascist right-wing groups who are active in the persecution and vilification of the Muslim community.

The anarchists who engaged in this action believe that anti-fascist action should not be solely about attending counter-rallies, or promoting social media posts. We believe that we need to counteract manifestations of fascism using a diversity of tactics, and that we should deprive religious fundamentalists and fascists of a platform by restricting their ability to propagate their ideas and to mobilise the community. We also believe that it is essential to send a message to fascists of all ilks that we are monitoring them, and will use whatever means are at our disposal to make their spaces as uncomfortable as possible.

Since undertaking this action we have predictably been condemned in the mainstream media by conservative commentators as “bullies” and “domestic terrorists”. However, other anarchists have also condemned us. In response we say: These people would prefer that we didn’t exist. This is having a very real impact on our community, and we’re fucking angry. We don’t play the respectability game, we don’t all think alike, and we don’t require or seek consensus or approval from liberals, outraged LGBTIQA+ people, the media, or assimilationist “anarchists”. As queer anarchists, we’re not some kind of conglomerate mass or hive mind- we’re individuals, and this is our own autonomous freely chosen expression.

We wanted to upset Christian fundamentalists and to create as big of a scene as possible to push the fuck back. We did, and it was fucking great. We found joy, laughter, comradery and strengthened friendships and connections. We took back a little bit of what they take from us when they do what they do. There is no “what works” when it comes to these people- they have their minds made up, they’re not fence sitters, they’re killing us. This is war. Playing “nice”? Friendly debate, hugs and petitions or invoking Ghandi? Keep it. Fucking keep it. Play your own chosen way, but you don’t get to tell us how to think. This is our rage, this is our expression. We’re pushing the fuck back and we’re going to continue to do so.

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Melebourne: Youths transferred to adult prison after more riots at Parkville youth justice centre

Police and paramedics at the Parkville youth justice centre

9 Jan – Seven young people have been transferred out of Melbourne’s troubled Parkville youth justice centre, some to Barwon Prison, after rioting for six hours overnight.

Paramedics and police, including dog handlers, were called to the centre on Park Street on Parkville shortly after 8:00pm.

Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said a group of six inmates broke away during a sporting activity before accessing a roof cavity and freeing another detainee.

“[The group] broke away from staff. They then managed to gain access to one of the units, and gain entry into the roof cavity of that unit,” she said.

“Whilst they were in the roof cavity, they managed to free one of their co-detainees out of his locked cell.”

Ms Mikakos said the incident was resolved by about 1:30am and no-one was injured.

Ian Lanyon, director of secure services at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), said 13 beds were damaged, taking the facility’s number of usable beds to about 50.

“We hope to have [those beds] repaired in the next few days and that unit fully back online,” he said.

The youths had been playing basketball before they absconded, Mr Lanyon added.

Before November’s riots, Parkville had a 123-bed capacity.

Some of the seven youths transferred were taken to the Grevillia Unit at Barwon Prison — a maximum security adult jail.

The others were sent to another youth justice centre at Malmsbury, about 100 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.

Police dog handler at Parkville Youth Justice Centre

A DHHS spokesperson said damage was being assessed and police were investigating.

“There were no injuries to young people, staff or police and at no point was there a threat to the security of the perimeter of the facility,” a statement read.

“Damage to the facility will be assessed with repair work to start as soon as this is completed.”

The State Government has been holding young people at the Grevillia Unit since November, after about 40 inmates rioted at the Parkville facility for 17 hours, ripping apart walls, windows and ceiling and destroying equipment.

The riot caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage and left much of the centre unusable.

The Supreme Court last month ruled that it was illegal to house juvenile detainees at the Grevillia Unit on human rights grounds.

However, the Government said it addressed the court’s concerns and again gazetted the prison unit as a youth justice centre on December 29, allowing it to keep youths there indefinitely.

Opposition Families and Children spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said it was clear young people being held at Parkville were not concerned about being transferred to Barwon.

“The young offenders were moved to Barwon because they trashed Parkville so extensively that they were incapable of living there,” she said.

“And still, even after that, even after young offenders have been transferred to Barwon, riots continue.

Melbourne: Riot police quell another disturbance at Parkville youth justice centre

Police say several of the teens were involved in an overnight robbery.

8 Jan – Police say they have quelled a disturbance at the youth justice centre at Parkville in Melbourne overnight.

A police spokeswoman said officers were called to the centre on Park Street about 8:00pm on Saturday.

She said a number of units had remained at the scene overnight, including the critical incident response team, riot police and the dog squad.

A State Government spokesman said he was unable to comment on the operation.

No further information was available.

The incident is the latest in a series of disturbances at the facility.

In November, the State Government moved more than a dozen juvenile inmates to a maximum security adult prison after a riot caused up to $1 million in damages.

The decision to send the juveniles to the Barwon Prison was found to be unlawful, leading the state to re-gazette a unit within the prison as a youth justice facility.

Narrm / Melbourne: Homeless people & housing activists disrupt the CEO Sleepout

24.06.16: Homeless people and housing activists confront CEOs pretending to be homeless because corporate greed is the cause of homelessness, not the solution

**Statement from homeless people and housing activists occupying ‪Bendigo St‬ as part of the ‘Houses Need People, People Need Houses’ campaign**

St Vinnies says of the CEOs participating in their annual CEO Sleepout: “Their commitment has increased the profile of homelessness”. But homelessness has never been more visible on the streets of Melbourne. We do not need more visibility. We need solutions.

By promoting big business as an ally in the fight to end homelessness St Vinnies is covering up the cause of this growing social crisis. If big business in Australia simply paid the tax it owes, billions of dollars would be raised to fund emergency accommodation and build the long-term public housing we desperately need.

With over 105,000 people homeless in Australia and 173,000 on public housing waiting lists the homelessness crisis will not be solved with PR stunts. Many of the businesses participating in the CEO Sleepout have already done far more harm than good. Instead of congratulating them for pretending to be homeless for a night we need to be holding them to account for their role in growing wealth inequality. As the share of tax paid by big business has shrunk, so has spending on public housing for those in need.

Many Australians are suffering from the housing crisis caused by putting the needs of the market before the interests of people. The market can’t solve this growing social crisis, and neither will these CEOs.

(via Houses Need People, People Need Houses)

Melbourne: Fascists driven out of Coburg

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27 May – “Finally, I see so many people standing here together, standing in solidarity. We are uniting against these bigots, these clowns.” These were the words of Rasheed, one of a hundred or so young Muslim locals who joined several hundred socialists, anarchists and other local residents to drive the Nazis out of Coburg on Saturday morning.

Rasheed was speaking after he and other locals had led a triumphant march of 500 people down Sydney Road, the iconic centre of multi-ethnic Coburg.

The Nazis and fascists, who had declared they were coming to the suburb with “force and terror” to shut down an anti-racist rally, had been comprehensively beaten, pushed off the streets.

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The fascists had planned to march down Sydney Road. Instead, their rally of 70-80 was cornered blocks away as they were repeatedly taken on by a growing crowd of anti-racists. Only a large and violent police operation to protect the fascists saved them from an even more ignoble fate. As it was, their rally was broken up and they scampered away as hundreds of anti-racists chased them through carparks and sports fields.

Viv Malo, an activist in First Nations Liberation, was among those who helped rout the fascists. “Personally, I will not be idle and let these white colonial remnants spew their vitriol while genocide against my peoples continues”, she said. “Scared idiots is what they are. I’ll shout them down at every opportunity.”

Some argued that we should ignore the fascists, or just rely on the police to protect us. The organisers of the original anti-racist rally, primarily the Socialist Alliance, insisted that they would not confront the fascists, and announced that they had agreed to police requests that they not march on Sydney Road.

If this argument had won the day, it would have been a disaster.

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If the vile United Patriots Front bigots had succeeded in their goal of marching down Sydney Road and preventing anti-racists from holding a rally, it would have set a terrible precedent. If the left couldn’t beat back the fascists in Coburg, where else could we expect to stop them?

Continue reading “Melbourne: Fascists driven out of Coburg”

Melbourne: Police and Protesters Clash Outside Liberal Party Dinner

8 April – Police have used capsicum spray on protesters outside a Liberal Party dinner to mark the 20th anniversary of the election of John Howard’s government.

However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is suspected to have avoided the skirmish in Melbourne’s Docklands by arriving by boat and entering the back of Shed 14 behind a police line.

About 150 people gathered outside the Central Pier function venue about 6pm on Friday to protest the federal government’s changes to higher education and the treatment of asylum seekers.

Students, unionists and refugee activists held placards and chanted slogans such as “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts.”

The demonstrators scuffled with police, including about 50 uniformed officers, as well as five mounted police and some Australian Federal Police.

The protesters yelled “scum” and “shame” at guests and jostled them as they arrived at the venue and were ushered around the rear of the venue by security guards.

Some of the building’s windows were broken, with officers using pepper spray on about 20 people, including an ABC cameraman.

Continue reading “Melbourne: Police and Protesters Clash Outside Liberal Party Dinner”