Saturday, 8 September 2007

People, Police, Paths, Protests, Pictures

Drove down a strangely-quiet-for-a-Saturday-morning Pacific Hwy to North Sydney. North Sydney was also very quiet, but that's nothing unusual on the weekend as it's predominantly a business district. Parked easily, walked to the station, bought a ticket and waited for the train heading into the city. A north-bound trained pulled into the station, all but empty. Similar story when my train arrived.

Disembarked at Town Hall station, walked through the QVB and had my first spotting of protesters (wearing anti-Bush tee shirts and drinking coffee at Gloria Jeans) and police. Out onto George Street to a lack of traffic and pedestrians and plenty of closed shops. As I had missed the actual march, decided to head straight down Market St to Hyde Park to join the rally. Got to Elizabeth St to a barricade of police and police vehicles. After one of the cops advised it would be 10-15 minutes before they would allow people to cross the street to get into Hyde Park, I decided to go the long way round.

So I back-tracked up Market and down Castlereagh St, only to be denied access to Park St by a row of police and a strategically placed bus. Ok, stage 3. Cut across through an arcade to Pitt St and came across this:

Now, the intelligence of the police operation was really coming to a pinnacle at this point. I was advised that I was unable to cross the road at the pedestrian crossing unless I was to walk up to George St and then back down Park St. I figured it was futile arguing that there would be no difference in me having access to the pedestrian crossing via this route as opposed to the alternative route with a guy who takes orders without question (I'll let you figure out which one he is in the pic). Ironically, on the opposite side of the Pitt St intersection is a McDonalds with entrances on both Pitt and Park Streets. So I was forced to pass through the Golden Tits of Mass Consumerism to proceed - eh, it saved me 5 minutes of walking in circles.

Finally on Park I was able to walk back down to Elizabeth only to be confronted by this:

Talk about overkill. Besides making it impossible for people to cross the road from either side, this mass show of police force was only serving one purpose - intimidation.

Eventually made it to the one police-sanctioned pedestrian crossing into Hyde Park and entered the rally proper. Came across a bloke from the Socialist Alternative Party who gave me this:

I chatted with the bloke about how the police were making it hard for people to get into Hyde Park. At one point he referred to them as 'the pigs' and looked confused when I responded "Don't call them that mate, they're just ordinary blokes doing their jobs".

Caught the end of the rally speeches. The dj chose "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" by the Beastie Boys to play straight after the speeches. This of course received great response. I chose to wander around observing, reading and talking.

This girl was part of a group of female Muslim protesters, all wearing hijabs.

At one point, there was a loud roar from the crowd and this came walking by:

The black thing sticking up in the centre of picture is a camera used by the police to instantly photograph and scan the faces of people in a crowd. I don't think too many people had anything to hide considering the size of the crowd following it around.

This group was dancing to "My Bush Would Make A Better President" by Digital Primate.

This stand was unattended when I walked past - shame...

And so, having spoken with a diverse range of people from a diverse range of cultures on a diverse range of issues, I wandered back towards the train station - this time using a much more direct route. Walking back up Park St, I saw this:

A hard-earned thirst hey fellas?

At the train station I ran into these 2 women:

The lady on the right told me her son had told her not attend the march with "that mob of riff-raff". She went on to tell me how disgusted she was with the police organisation of the event, being that she had to walk for so long to be able to express her right to protest. We both agreed that riff-raff did not define the range of people who had attended and that the path to freedom should have been a hell of a lot shorter and easier.
"NSW Police riot squad chief Superintendent Stephen Cullen had warned: "I have absolutely no doubt that minority groups will engage in a level of violence not previously experienced in Sydney."

5,000 attendants, 9 arrests, 2 injured police, 0 riots.

I've been to cricket matches with worse outcomes than that.

Less fear-mongering going on when it comes to cricket though.

Songs played while writing this entry:
"Add It Up" The Violent Femmes
"Acid Wiss" DJ Skull
"Drop Top Caddy" Aphrodite & Mickey Finn
"Forth" Secret Silence
"There Goes The Neighborhood" Body Count
"Kick Out The Jams" The Presidents Of The United States Of America
"All I Want Is You" U2
"Holiday" Weezer
"Rocket Queen" Guns N Roses
"Land Of Zod" Plantastik
"Scary Dog" Sixth Sense Approach
"Low" Cracker

1 comment:

People in the Sun said...

Great photos. I like your response to the Pigs comment. It's easy in these types of situations to fall into juvenile stereotypes (and in the US and in England, to antisemitic remarks against evil Zionism). Maybe the institution of a police force in democracies exists only to protect the economic interests of the elites. Maybe it exists to protect all of us from further abuse by these elites. But police officers are definitely human beings, and I'm sure many of them hate the war in Iraq, but they're not being paid to express their opinions, you know, only to prevent chaos (again, for whatever reason).

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