After a week of peaceful demonstration in Martin Place the Occupy Sydney protest was broken up over the weekend by hundreds of armed riot police who moved on the protestors at 5am while most were asleep. It was a shameful over-reaction and a disappointing end to what had been a very positive week.
The protestors were part of a global movement to highlight inequality between the rich and the poor. Along with tens of thousands of others in dozens of cities world-wide they have done a great job of bringing public attention to the corrupting influence of greed in our democracies.
While the effects of this overseas, in places like the USA and Greece, are more obvious they are no less insidious in Australia. One only need look at the fact that every year the wealthiest corporations donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Liberal and Labor parties in the hope of securing legislative favours – favours that the environment or disadvantaged people will never see because they can’t afford to buy them.
Despite media reports to the contrary the City of Sydney neither supported nor requested this completely unnecessary intervention. Support for the operation came from our Liberal state government, who used the excuse of enforcing Council rules against camping in order to remove a protest that they were increasingly uncomfortable with. What would happen to the Liberal party if it could no longer sell its values to the highest bidder? Where would they be without millions of dollars to spend on spin doctors and slick advertising before every election?
I join with my Greens colleagues in state parliament in condemning this police action that has left numerous protestors injured and many others facing court proceedings simply for peacefully expressing their views.
This Wednesday the Occupy Sydney group will be holding a general assembly to decide on what action to take next in standing up for global equality. This meeting is open to everyone and will be held in Martin Place at 6:30pm. I’ll be heading along and I’d urge anyone else concerned about the issue to do the same.