IMARC protesters subjected to police violence

Victoria Police used capsicum spray and heavy-handed arrest tactics against a largely non-violent crowd of protesters outside the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne last week. 
All photos: Eastern Melbourne Climate Alliance

By Eve Sinton • Fossil Fool Bulletin, 5 November 2019

The International Mining and Resources (IMARC) conference in Melbourne last week attracted about 7,000 attendees and up to 300 protesters who were out-numbered by hyped-up police with a heavy-handed attitude.

Despite most protesters adhering to principles of non-violence, conflict erupted on all three days of the conference, with at least one protester hospitalised after being trampled by a police horse.

Even journalists attempting to report on events were pepper-sprayed and man-handled as they were accused of failing to respond to police instructions.

Ailish Hallinan of Farrago (a Melbourne University magazine) was pepper-sprayed.

“If I can applaud Victoria Police stationed outside IMARC this week on anything, it’s how indiscriminate they’ve been in dishing out absurd levels of violence,” she said.

“Today, it didn’t matter who you were – young or old, protester or observer – no one was exempt from the tyrannical-style of brutality displayed by Victoria Police.

“Half an hour after arriving, myself and another Farrago reporter were pepper sprayed by police. And before you ask; no, neither of us were involved in the protest.

“If you’ve never had the experience of being pepper sprayed before, all I can say is that’s it’s immeasurably worse than I ever imagined. What ensued in the moments after I was sprayed was an unbearable sensation of feeling like someone had lit a match on my skin before shoving it in my eyes. It took me at least five minutes to regain my sight, but even at the time of writing this – nearly eight hours later, my vision is still blurry and my skin still burns.

“I wasn’t the only journalist injured today. Reporters from Channel 7, Channel 9 and apparently Sky News also experienced varying degrees of violence of their own, including being pushed by police and subjected to pepper spray,” Hallinan said.

“The pathetic attempt to pass blame on to journalists like myself as well as protesters didn’t rattle me as much as the press conference held by Commander Libby Murphy.

“This afternoon, after protesters were doused in pepper spray, Murphy applauded police at the blockade for showing ‘much restraint’ and affirmed that the use of the chemical agent ‘complied with Victoria Police policy’.

“These displays of grotesque and unjustifiable violence must serve as a wake-up call,” the Farrago reporter said.

Protester Seth Rothery said, “At about 10.30am Tuesday I was assaulted and arrested by Victorian Police while standing outside IMARC.

A policeman makes a ‘white power’ hand gesture, while a colleague has his body-cam lens covered with a sign reading EAD (eat a dick) Hippy.

Protester choked, brutalized

“I was standing still in a nonviolent protest line, arms linked with the protester next to me. With no warning and completely unprovoked, I felt both hands of one of ‘Victorias finest’ close around my neck, completely cutting off my air supply.

“A total of four officers forced me to my knees and shoved my head into the pavement. My arms were twisted behind my back and thick white cable ties were fastened around my wrists all while the cops screamed in my ears ‘stop resisting’. After about six or seven seconds my neck was released and I could breathe.

“At no point did I resist this overwhelming, disproportionately violent assault,” said Rothery.

“The cable tie on my left wrist was so tight I was experiencing excruciating lightning sharp pain radiating into my hand and up my arm. My fingers were going numb and I felt the tingling get stronger. I knew that meant nerve damage if not released so asked repeatedly, ‘Please loosen my left hand!’ I was ignored for the first 15 or so requests till finally one of the officers realised I wasn’t lying and pushed me to my knees and tried to cut them off. The ties were sunk so deep into my flesh that it took three cops over two minutes to free me, even with a special tool designed for this exact task.

“The rest of my arrest and processing at Melbourne West Police Station was relatively standard,” Rothery said.

Except of course for this delightful interaction:

Cop: ‘So what do you do for a living?’

Me: ‘No comment’ (standard response recommended by legal counsel).

Cop: ‘Yeah you’re probably a fuckin’ dole bludger aren’t ya?’

Alt-right influence amongst police

True Crime Weekly reported that a police officer photographed menacingly flashing a suspected ‘white power’ sign at a young woman of Asian heritage at the IMARC protest is also a fan of well-known Alt-Right and fascist memes.

Senior Constable Travis Gray has been named as the officer responsible for flashing the OK hand sign in a menacing manner.

True Crime Weekly revealed that Senior Constable Gray is a “self-declared fan of well-known Alt-Right and fascist memes like Pepe the Frog and NPC Wojak, if his own social media accounts are any guide.

“Racist and fascist memes that are used by Alt-Right trolls had pride of place on Senior Constable Gray’s personal Facebook page which, has now been shut down.”

Gray was also spotted striking a woman on the head, a move defended by police as a ‘palm strike’ used to move crowds along.

Another Victoria Police officer was photographed with a handwritten note on his body camera that read “EAD (Eat A Dick) Hippy”.

Protester Kate Thomson posted pictures on Facebook which showed the officer wearing the small white sticker on his bodycam.

Thomson said she believed officers were deliberately covering their cameras and ID badges during the protests, and this demonstrated a ‘problematic culture amongst the police’.

She said the sticker over the officer’s camera demonstrated prejudice against hippie protesters and an intention to keep the camera off. “From what I saw it is clear to me that there is a culture amongst police to conceal their badges and support other officers in doing so,” Thomson said.

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