Posted by Unknown |

Viva Los Muchos Revolutionos

I made that Spanish up, but I figure it could be real.

Ryan and I went to the A30 protest yesterday, it was way cool. It was the protest where you could protest anything you want. Some of the things we found people protesting about were Capitalism, VSUs, Workplace Rights, Public Education Funding, Refugees, Falun Gong, Globalization, Greed, The Environment, Rich People, Homophobia, Anti-Iraq Occupation, Drop the Debt and David Hicks. It was like a left wing pot-roast.

I decided I was protesting about Workplace Rights, Refugees and Drop the Debt.

The demonstration started in Customs Square with a bit of dancing and a lot of speeches. After the speeches the plan was to march to the Opera House. Depending on which speaker you listened to this was either going to be a peaceful march, or demonstration of militant action. While the speeches were on Ryan and I got bored so we did an advance march to the Opera House to have a look at the barricades. It was pretty cool, you couldn't get anywhere near the Opera House. There were big fences everywhere.

On returning to the square we heard some more speeches. Some good, some not so good. My favourite was the man who was telling us about David Hicks and asked us all to have 30 seconds of silence, go into our "heartspace" and send a message of support to Hicks. Then the man said in a rather eery voice "Daaviid, we'rrre with yooouuu."

Following the speeches it was time for the big march. We marched through Circular Quay blowing whistles, clapping and hitting drums. It was fun seeing all the rich people in their apartments and restaurants watch the rabble march by. They looked at us like we were a bit of a traveling circus.

When we got to the barricades people immediately climbed the fence and started rocking it. I think those people had been planning a violent protest all along. There wasn't much time for them to be worked into a frenzy, or provoked. Ryan and I were lucky enough to be few feet from the fence.

Soon, after much shaking and cheering, the fence broke, just meters from where we were. At this stage a long line of Police was moving down the fence getting people off. Once the fence broke people tried to get through but the cops pounced on them pretty quickly. As the crowd surged there seemed to be a bigger surge of photographers and cameramen. I think half the people at the fence were fighting with Police, the other half were fighting for a good shot.

After the Police cleared the fence the horses came down to clear about a meter between fence and protesters. At this stage I realised that the horses were heading right for me and I would rather not get crushed either by horses or fleeing protesters, so I moved a few feet back. It was pretty fun. I felt like I was in a real news story.

Once the horses had cleared the fence further, they left and the Police line held the protesters away. Following that nothing much happened. People shouted at the Police but that's about it. After about an hour of standing around Ryan and I decided to go home seeing as neither of us was looking likely to get arrested and we had made our point to the rich people, whatever point that was meant to be.

I think the Police were pretty impressive. They calmed the crowd very quickly and didn't react to the taunts of the protesters. They didn't do anything that I could see to inflame the situation. I think they were cool. They were certainly better behaved than our mob.

I'm not really a fan of violent protests. It's been interesting reading Long Walk to Freedom (which I finished on the train home last night) and seeing how long it was before the ANC decided to engage in violent struggle. Then seeing the contrast last night when we were told to take militant action because the Government is threatening to lower the minimum wage. I wasn't all that impressed. I fully believe in protest. But violence is a weak, irrational response when embarked upon at the drop of a hat. I don't endorse violent protests.

But it was quite interesting being part of one. Even if it didn't really get all that rowdy.

I like protesting. I like the right to protest. I like democracy. We can shout at the Government, break their fences, and call them fascists, and most of the time the Police just stood there. God Bless Australia.

Here's some photos:

Protest Arrives.jpg
This was when the first protest march arrived at Customs' House.

The Cops.jpg
This is the Police. The Guy in the front in the Stockman's coat didn't like the protesters much and tried to break one of the hippy drummer's drum sticks. He couldn't do it because it was more of a drum log, it was straight from a tree and about 3cm thick.

Reduce Greed.jpg
"Reduce Greed". It made me laugh.

The Dancing Skeletons

Fence and the House.jpg
The Barricades

The Commies.jpg
Our Friends the Commies

On the Fence.jpg
On the Fences

Idyllic Protest Spot

When the Fence Broke.jpg
When the Fence Broke

The Horses Arrive

More Cops.jpg
Cops, and the Back of Ryan's Head