So this is Melbourne: Brunswick Street Tunnel Picket this morning.
Unbelievable but true. This morning inner-city Melbourne felt like a police state, as a large contingent of armed officers rammed East-West protesters, who had linked arms to encircle the drilling rig on Brunswick Street. Amidst cries, and occasional shouts from protestors that 'This is a peaceful protest' and with one young man imploring: 'Don't hurt my mother!' police pushed and dragged protestors from the fence.
Some people were hurt. Many were frightened. Fortunately the Street Medics were in attendance as usual to treat and comfort (and water).
Amidst the scuffles and chants of 'No tunnel. No way. We're going to fight it all the way', feisty Rosie managed to escape notice and scampered up the rig, to which she attached herself with her handbag strap (vinyl of course). From her vantage point she cheerfully resisted the urging of police to come down.
|Rosie - woman of the hour|
It was great to hear that work on another rig, in Emma Street, was also at a standstill because two of our fellow protestors, Andrew and Gabriella, had taken the initiative and locked on. The Steet Medics and a few other people were there supporting them.
Removing the protestors from around the Brunswick Street fence, the police then stationed themselves in front of it. After a break to compose themselves, the protestors took up new positions in front of the police.
Periodically protestors kept up their chants: 'What do we want?' 'Public Transport.' 'When so we want it?' 'Now.' 'How are we gonna get it?' 'Fight for it.' And they did that even after what I found to be one of the most shocking and upsetting incidents - on orders from a superior, all along the line the police gave protestors an almighty push in the back. Arriving just after dawn, I'd found the image of the assembled police, in their reflective gear particularly scary in the half light, but in the light of day they proved even more frightening.
|A scary prospect|
The police targeted different protestors, and at one point a young man called Brendan was dragged to the ground, handcuffed and marched off to a police van where he was charged with assaulting a policeman!
|Brendan after his ordeal|
I had to leave just after 8 to get to work, and by that time the rig workers had still not arrived. But although today was frightening, it smacks to me of the actions of a desperate government. There were far more picketers than usual, the media (even including the ABC) was there. The cast of the popular series 'Offspring', scheduled to film near Brunswick street and Emma street were majorly pissed off that they would have to reschedule, but made a point of expressing their support for our aims.
Perhaps it's no surprise that, despite the distress of the morning, on my way home 'The people, united, will never be defeated' kept spooling through my head.