Submitted by Rhubarb on Thu, 23/10/2014 - 5:24pm
Today marks the 3 year anniversary of the initial massive, violent dawn police eviction of Occupy Sydney on 23 October 2011. Up to Monday, 11 people still faced criminal charges ranging from ‘camping’ to assault police primarily from this eviction. The hearing of these matters was continuously adjourned due to an Occupy Sydney constitutional challenge to the ‘camping’ charges i.e. that the implied right to the freedom of political communication in the Australian Constitution should have protected the political occupation that occurred at Martin Place as part of the global Occupy movement. Sadly this case reached the end of its road last Friday when it was considered by the High Court of Australia in regards to whether special leave should be granted for the case to be heard in the High Court. Leave was refused.
On Monday, the 11 people with ongoing Occupy Sydney charges had their matters mentioned in the Local Court for almost the 20th time, with their matters due to be set down for a hearing. FINALLY THE POLICE DROPPED ALL OF THE REMAINING OCCUPY SYDNEY CHARGES. This result is a vindication of the dodgy arrests made of and charges given to these Occupy Sydney protestors, as happens extremely often at protests. These 11 people have had their charges hanging over them for ALMOST 3 YEARS as the constitutional contest of the legitimacy of the police actions made its way through the slow and conservative Australian legal system. One of these people took on the risk of costs against him from the City of Sydney Council and the NSW Government for being the main applicant in the constitutional challenge. STAY TUNED re word of potential costs against this brave person.
Members of the Jura collective would like to say congratulations to these 11 people on the outcome on Monday. We admire their strength and conviction in standing up for themselves and with each other for such a long time. We stand in solidarity with ALL of the people that stood up to the police and legal system to defend their ability to participate in Occupy Sydney. There were almost 100 arrests made of Occupy Sydney protestors over the first 4 months of the protests. ALMOST ALL THE CHARGES AND FINES that were contested by defendants were withdrawn by the police or dismissed by the court. The Occupy Sydney network is also currently working on at least one court case against the cops for a clear false arrest of a protestor – stay tuned regarding this too!
The Occupy Sydney legal matters remind us of: the limited protection in Australian law in regards to the ability to protest - both the Occupy Sydney and Melbourne constitutional cases have been useful in providing clarity about the (regrettably limited) scope of the implied right in the Constitution to the freedom of political communication. Having said this, we again learn that the police are usually extremely underhanded in their policing of protests. Ultimately they know that the charges they give to protestors often won’t stand up in the courts, but they arrest us anyway to criminalise, hurt and intimidate us and to damage our movements. Often the state succeeds. So we are reminded of the importance of organising collectively, including of legal support, so that we can look out for each other, push back against the state, and keep struggling FTW. Jura Books stands in solidarity with people struggling for a better world in the streets, workplaces, cages and schools in Sydney and everywhere.
Finally, if you are in a position to donate to the Occupy Sydney legal fund, details are below. Any additional funds will go towards other protest legal support funds.
Account Number - 51298S1
BSB Number - 802884
Bank - Maritime Mining Power Credit Union