Ben Boyang reporting for Bin’s Blog
I am embedded with Blockade Australia (literally) as they take on The State of N.S.W.
The state has laws, guns and money.
Blockade Australia has a lot of passion!
B.A. is calling for urgent action on the climate crisis and a change to the system that is causing it,
because they are convinced that we cannot take the action that is required under the present economic regime.
As we approach Sydney town, me and my bed-buddy hear disturbing reports on the bush telegraph that The State has mounted a full-scale assault on a BA holiday camp on the Colo river, in the beautiful Blue Mountains, arresting as many activists as they can lay there hands on. I miss out on all the action.
(that’s why I am still a cadet reporter after all these years, still chasing that one big scoop)
So we head to scene 2, Penrith District Court, for the bail hearings.
We happen to bump into the BA lawyer Mark Davis, whom I came across in Journalist school back in 1978. Mark is obviously more adept at climbing the ladder of success than I. He seems to have survived his years as a journalist without becoming a cynical alcoholic.(if only I could say the same) Now he has joined another profession awash with washed up, cynical alcoholics. He explains the state of play; The cops were doing surveillance to gather enough evidence to mount a raid on BA, on the grounds that BA were planning an illegal operation involving the heinous crime of obstructing traffic.
(obstructing traffic was until quite recently a misdemeanour attracting a $400 fine – see-you-later, don’t bother me again. Over night obstructing traffic has been elevated to the level of arson, aeroplane hijacking and paedophilia, carrying a sentence of up to 5 years in gaol, and/or a $22,000 fine. Anyone even suspected of thinking about committing this despicable crime are portrayed as akin to drug lords and terrorists.)
It is in fact a de-facto ban on peaceful protest!
Now picture yourself if you may, at the said holiday camp on the Colo River.
BA are running a training course in climbing up things using ropes. It is early morning, the mist is lifting, the sun is peaking thru. Eagle eyed campers happen to notice two suspicious characters in camouflage gear lurking in the bushes. When approached, the pair remain completely immobile, much like a lizard will do when it sees a predator. But your lizard will always skit off at the last moment, leaving a juicy tit-bit behind. These two nefarious characters however, perhaps lacking the wit of your average lizard, remain frozen until they are completely surrounded. When asked the obvious question, “who are you, and why exactly are you hiding in the bushes in your camouflage gear?” they remain silent. Then one of them says to a little thingummy on his collar, “We are compromised.” No doubt they are well aware that BA is made up entirely of pacifist vegans who would ‘never-hurt-a-fly’ – literally, so they do not fear for their lives.
Soon enough, a rescue vehicle speeds to their rescue. Some folks surround the vehicle and climb on top of it, in a vain attempt to keep it from leaving before the occupants have divulged their purpose and identity.
Soon enough the holiday camp is invaded by a swarm of dangerous looking individuals dressed up in all manor of ridiculous outfits designed to frighten whomever they encounter. Helicopters buzz overhead. Attack dogs bark. Men and women in full riot gear rush about making their presence felt. They are weighed down with Weapons of Mass Dissuasion. There are gruesome hulks from the Raptor Squad, seconded from busting drug peddling bikie gangs. They are looking really pissed off to be dealing with tofu munching vegans who fail to put up any resistance what-so-ever, very disappointing.
The young folks who have come to learn some tree climbing skills naturally run off hither and thither, fearing for their lives. Many of them are scantily clad, and must spend all day and most of the following night exposed to the elements. It just happens to be the longest night of the year, especially for those shivering thru it. The weather is inclement.
Everyone is concerned for their welfare, everyone except the police that is.
The police stubbornly refuse to call the S.E.S. to search for them. (Apparently the S.E.S. cannot go into action without a direction from the police.) Despite the police leaving them for dead, they all eventually turn up safe and sound, except for the unlucky ones, who end up in a prison cell. Everyone is hunted down like dogs, rounded up and corralled like sheep, treated like cattle, then the authorities pick out anyone they can charge with anything they can think of on the spot.
After this fiasco the police actually get quite smart. The ground crew have completely bungled the spying operation, allowing most of the alleged miscreants to run hither and thither into the dense jungle, never to be seen again, it is now time to bring in the next wave of attack on this hapless bunch of kids who are supposedly master-minding the abominable crime of obstructing traffic.
(disrupting the free flow of goods is just about the worst crime you can commit in a free market, neo-liberal, palliative stage capitalist regime)
Time to deploy the lawyers, and as we all know too well, your lawyers are not only known for being a bunch of cynical alcoholics, they are also renowned throughout the realm for their rat-cunning, and that just happens to be the attribute most sought–after by The State at this particular moment – a match made in heaven.
Seven people were initially charged with fabricated offenses related to surrounding the spy’s get-away vehicle. Crimes such as, ‘obstructing one traffic’ and ‘damaging a police vehicle.’
1. No one was told it was a police vehicle.
2. They just let the tyres down, and later gave the police a pump to pump them up again.
(This is the sort of good-neighbourly attitude that permeates BA.- not quite ‘love-thine-enemy,’ – more like, don’t go out of your way to be spiteful)
So, even though the spies were sprung, the police have turned it to their advantage by using the incident as an excuse to arrest people. When those charges are eventually heard, they will be thrown out of court, as they are laughable. (They may not be funny, but they are a joke none-the-less)
But the laughableness of the charges is neither here-nor-there. The main purpose of the charges is not to get a conviction, it is to impose bail conditions that take these ‘dangerous criminals’ off the streets for the duration of the advertised street protests.
So here we are in Penrith District Court listening to the prosecutor, a dogged blood-hound/pit bull terrier cross, devoted to keeping the commercial hub of the nation throbbing.
The magistrate seems reluctant to deny bail or impose punitive bail conditions for these ad hock charges, The State has a flimsy case. The beek in fact, makes no effort to hide his ennui…until the wily prosecutor asserts that these kids are part of an ‘ideological group.’ At this the beek pricks up his ears and wipes the drool from his lower lip. Our erstwhile blood-hound/pit bull does not describe the nature of this ideology, or how it differs from ‘our’ ideology, (free-market, neo-liberal, palliative stage capitalism) but the magistrate gets his drift. I can almost catch him giving his mate a wink as the penny drops and it becomes clear what The State requires of him. His duty is to impose whatever bail conditions will keep these kids off the streets for the duration of the alleged protests. The beek then decrees that none of the seven accused are allowed anywhere near the Sydney C.B.D. until their cases are heard on the 12th of July.
Two of the accused are deemed to be most unlikely to abide by this condition, so they have their bail denied altogether, an extreme punitive measure, based on the assumption they are members of an ideological group. They are now political prisoners.
Welcome to the New World Order!
Score: B.A. – O The State 1
Next, Chapter 2 – Raid at Ebenezer Church – on the Hawkesbury river