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First they came for the hippies
October 21, 2011 2:17 AM   Subscribe

Protesters in the Occupy Melbourne camp have been physically removed by riot police ahead of the Queen's visit to the city next week. The violence has prompted the small sit-in to escalate into a march of thousands through the city's central business district.

Australia weathered the GFC well and isn't as badly affected by the problems that gave rise to Occupy Wall Street, so its equivalent movements have largely been met with criticism. Outcry over the violence surrounding its dispersal, however, spread quickly through social media and the protest swelled to several thousand, clashing with more than 600 police and marching through the city during peak hour, disrupting traffic.

The eviction notice and police orders were given by the city's conservative Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, who is drawing criticism from commentators and politicians for provoking the situation into violence. It looks likely that the protests, or protests about the protests, will continue over the weekend.
posted by notionoriety (90 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Even if it peters out, at least it has given us this photo and the strangest meeting minutes that I've ever read.
posted by notionoriety at 2:17 AM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


The point of riot police isn't to start riots.
posted by empath at 2:24 AM on October 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


Sure it is. Riot police commonly use escalation as a tactic to gain control.
posted by ryanrs at 2:35 AM on October 21, 2011 [25 favorites]


I've been following the whole fight on twitter watching the updates of people I know down there and I've had the most unexpected attack of age. When I was twenty I went and occupied the street in Sydney outside the Stock Exchange in more or less an identically motivated demonstration; was surrounded by the Police, wound up by accident in a scrum of three hundred people, had my umbrella stolen and my arse kicked for my pains for questioning neoliberal globalisation; six months later a pack of murderers attacked New York City and we spent a decade demonstrating in massed futility against wars instead. Though I'm in generally favour of a bit of populism and of the occupants in my own city I've no wish to go through all that dissent-consensus-proposal-group-hug-against-bureaucracy rubbish again. Good luck, best wishes!

It's occurred to me that the greatest difference between the Australian occupants and the much stronger and more memetic American ones isn't that we have it 'better', whatever that means, but that there's no fetish here for a First Amendment protecting public demonstration that doesn't exist---or sense that occupation of a public space in any way threatens a political system. It's... just a street.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 2:46 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Minutes didn't seem that odd for a protest group on on a scan - raised my rather more staid eyebrows at the group hugs and 'innate skillsets', but was expecting conspiraloonery from your billing.
posted by Abiezer at 2:48 AM on October 21, 2011


I get the feeling that the "Civilized West" is now only a half-step away from Libya.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:57 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


The hashtag with regular updates has been #occupymelbourne. I did think that our local versions of OWS were pretty tame and silly by comparison - some witty person called them "Socialist Alliance Summer Camp" (after the perennially-ignored SA political party).

But there's no excuse for sending in riot police against peaceful protesters. The usual tales of Melbourne cops taking off their ID badges so they can't be reported for any illegal acts have surfaced, something they've been told off for several times before.

In the same way that Aussies have less reason to protest than Americans right now (not least that we still have universal health care, even if our dole is stricter than it used to be), I would have hoped that our police would have been less inclined to start dramas and thuggishness too. What happened to being more relaxed and low-key overall?
posted by harriet vane at 2:58 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I see that their police horses wear goggles. They are missing out on an opportunity to put a big rubber unicorn horn and big false eyelashes on each of those things. When the police come around the corner riding My Little Unicorn, you pay attention.
posted by pracowity at 3:30 AM on October 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


I've been at the the protest for a couple of hours a day since Monday. Ostensibly to photograph, but I ended up contributing to one of the working groups. As you'd probably expect, many of the folks are extremely rational, thoughtful types that are simply interested in demonstrably taking ownership of political and social dialogue away from the controlled and staged national media/celebrity events. Things are not nearly as bad here as they are in the US or parts of Europe, but we are in a precarious position.

The police actions this morning were certainly "overwhelming" in terms of numbers and approach. It was a tense, but thankfully a vastly orderly day. I don't think things have reached their conclusion yet. The break-up of the City Square site has mobilised many, many more people to participate. It will be interesting how it evolves.

What's sad to lose though is the opportunity to engage in grassroots discussions on issues facing Melbourne, Victoria and Australia in public as a part of the public.
posted by michswiss at 3:38 AM on October 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


The police action was an unforced error. What would probably have petered out in a couple of weeks is now likely to turn into a large campaign against police brutality, drawing in a lot of people who weren't previously political. And all to impress Her Majesty!

Leftist activism in Melbourne is usually incredibly rancorous and sectarian, with particularly intense bitterness around the activities of Socialist Alternative and their less prominent (and less aggressive) rival sects. The camp in City Square was remarkable for providing a kind of 24-hour drop-in community centre in which leftists could amicably discuss, debate, and test their ideas, with friendly participation even by many members of the most notorious small parties. At night it was like an open-air soup kitchen, where young activists, runaways, and the city's homeless could get free (vegan) food and friendly conversation.

I hope the camp is reestablished soon and lasts a long time, even if it doesn't develop into a revolution, because the low-key festival atmosphere was hugely positive.
posted by wwwwwhatt at 3:51 AM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


@wwwwwhatt - that's interesting to hear your experience there.
I passed through and saw all the SA propaganda posters and my heart sank. I assumed that it was another potentially good protest that SA were going to megaphone to fractured pointlessness and I left before anyone could sell me a paper.
posted by compound eye at 4:15 AM on October 21, 2011


The point of riot police isn't to start riots.

It's a waste of taxpayer's money to send riot police somewhere where there isn't a riot; thus it is in everyone's best interests that the riot police ensure that they start one so that we can get our money's worth.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:38 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know if the SA over there is the same/associated with the Socialist Alternative we have here, but if they're similar, I have to say this: as an anarchist, but more importantly as a Jew and a Russian emigrant, I find modern-day Marxism more or less offensive. Every single place on Earth it's been tried it's led to at most death camps, and at least massive disenfranchisement and censorship. I don't see how anyone with the slightest knowledge of history can still actually support Trotskyism or Leninism, much less Maoism or Stalinism. It seems just as violently disrespectful of the millions who died under the fist of all those ideologies as modern day support for Pinochet or Franco.
posted by cthuljew at 4:46 AM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Every single place on Earth it's been tried it's led to at most death camps,

What an absurd statement.
posted by spitbull at 4:50 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every single place on Earth it's been tried....

This phrase doesn't mean what I think you think it means.

Seriously, I think there are serious control and feedback issues with Marxism that pretty much render it inoperable on a large scale, but I'm not sure you can really say it's been given anything like an honest attempt on a large scale anywhere.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:53 AM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


> but I'm not sure you can really say it's been given anything like an honest attempt on a large scale anywhere.

thank goodness
posted by de at 4:56 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


No true Marxist, then?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:58 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Without wanting to derail into historical Kremlinology, trying to figure out what went wrong in the Soviet Union and its daughter states is pretty much the raison d'etre of Trotskyism, and Socialist Alternative's tradition in particular are very negative about the history of "actually existing socialism".
posted by wwwwwhatt at 4:59 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just typed a long rant about how country towns are suffering in a way that cities cannot imagine - and where the fuck are the protesters when the cost of renting a house here in the boondocks has doubled in two years, we have more empty shopfronts each day because they can't afford their rent, FIFO miners are ruining many country towns because they take their money home with them, they don't spend it here - but I deleted it.

Funnily enough, I have a job in Melbourne. I live in central-west NSW, but thanks to skype and email and the internet in general, I am able to work and support my children. However, I don't have the luxury of being able to spend a week camping in front of lenses.

Let me just say that professional protesters shit me, and with each photo I see of a protester grinning broadly, they de-value their cause more and more.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:07 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe while the Queen is in town she can explain how well escalation worked for her great great great great grandfather.

Maybe someone should buy them a copy of "On Every Street" or something.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:09 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


FIFO: fly in, fly out.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:09 AM on October 21, 2011


However, I don't have the luxury of being able to spend a week camping in front of lenses.

You will once you're laid off and your job shuffled off to somewhere they don't have the kind of labor laws you're used to.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:11 AM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


I would say everywhere capitalism has been tried it has led to suffering somewhere.
posted by spitbull at 5:17 AM on October 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


People everywhere should eat the rich. Especially Australians. After Vegemite, how hard could that be?
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:28 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


This Facebook photo album shows the evictions taking place from an aerial vantagepoint.

At the southern end of the square, you can see a monstrous statue of a baby with a lizard's tail. This is a sculpture by the Russian artists AES+F. A series of these sculptures has been installed along the main north-south road of central Melbourne as part of the Melbourne Festival. One of them was serendipitously located within City Square and was dubbed the Monsanto Mutant Baby by the occupiers.
posted by wwwwwhatt at 5:30 AM on October 21, 2011


For what it's worth, and I don't want to offend you malibustacey9999, I've done a first pass at images on the last five days that are accessible via the link in my profile.

I am not a protester. This though has the potential to engage so many more people that the bullshit that comes through the media. Being a resource-exporting economy, we can and will be buffeted by the economics of other countries and we need to acknowledge this and be banking the largess happening now. The housing bubble will deflate, negative gearing will turn negative. It's best that people get involved now before things get really nasty. We have a chance to avoid the worst consequences and be a model for others.
posted by michswiss at 5:31 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, I don't have the luxury of being able to spend a week camping in front of lenses.

You will once you're laid off and your job shuffled off to somewhere they don't have the kind of labor laws you're used to.
posted by Kid Charlemagne


As I was only hired in June, and the business is expanding at a rate that would blow most small-business owners minds, and I've been signed to a long-term contract now... I'm not worried about losing my job.

Is this the part where I point out that I was hired through a US agency, and most employees are in Asia, but for this particular job they needed a native English speaker who understands Australian tax systems?

I'm willing to bet that a fair proportion of the protesters have better skills than I, but I'm still working Monday to Friday while they have the time to debate if calling their enemies scumbags is appropriate.

On the upside, I'm really glad I don't work at the closest Centrelink office. They'll be inundated.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:32 AM on October 21, 2011


Is it really a matter of eating the rich? Or is it more about the importance of the fucking safety net - we all contribute, companies alike, to the kitty that pays for schools, hospitals, roads and other basic infrastructure. You still get to make money by starting businesses and trading stock or whatever the fuck, but you pay in. You get what's left. Everyone benefits. I just seriously do not understand people who are opposed to getting the essentials by a common fund.
posted by h00py at 5:34 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's a fair few pictures here (ta, twitter colleague).

What I see in the pictures is enthusiasm and energy meeting discipline and organisation, and coming off second best.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:35 AM on October 21, 2011


I wandered past the Sydney guys in Martin Place yesterday. Smallish group, but good natured, not angry chanting or anything. Some of the posters they had put up were a little confused, but good on them for getting out there.
My hope is that the political establishment sees growing anger at business and uses it to justify pushing back some of the accommodations business has won over the last generations.
Some good news - changes to laws around exec pay may slowly be getting somewhere.
Some bad news - the banks are now absurdly allowed to issue covered bonds. These repay the bond holders before they repay depositors. Absurd, because the gov now guarantees deposits, so they have just allowed banks to ramp up the risk and potential bail-out costs.
posted by bystander at 5:39 AM on October 21, 2011


I'm sorry, michswiss, but I don't understand. What changes do the protesters want? Before I support them, I need to know their aims. All McDonalds banned? Fine with me. Bank CEO salaries capped? Fine with me. All mining companies held to account? Also fine with me. But I still have no idea exactly what concrete changes the protesters want.

Instead of publicising shocking media pic opportunities, perhaps they should clearly state their aims to those of us who don't understand why Australians are squatting in CBD's while the rest of us are still going about our business, living day-to-day, paying our bills, swapping from banks to credit unions to ensure that our money isn't paying bank CEO's, etc.

I wish I could find the youtube clip of "Australia, Don't Become America". Was it the Hilltop Hoods?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:44 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I suppose this is what happens when you allow yourselves to be ruled over by Lords and Ladies and Kings and Queens. Try democracy, Australia.

...there's no fetish here for a First Amendment protecting public demonstration that doesn't exist...

See? It's not a document that forms the basis of our entire government, it's a fetish. And there's nothing at all fetishistic about being dominated by a few men and women who rule by divine fiat.
posted by indubitable at 5:47 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


malibustacey9999: "Funnily enough, I have a job in Melbourne. I live in central-west NSW, but thanks to skype and email and the internet in general, I am able to work and support my children. However, I don't have the luxury of being able to spend a week camping in front of lenses."

Neither do they.

"Let me just say that professional protesters shit me, and with each photo I see of a protester grinning broadly, they de-value their cause more and more"

...and if they looked sullen, you'd say they were hurting their cause. What horseshit.
posted by notsnot at 5:48 AM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


malibustacey9999: "I'm willing to bet that a fair proportion of the protesters have better skills than I, but I'm still working Monday to Friday while they have the time to debate if calling their enemies scumbags is appropriate."

"Get a haircut and a job, you fuckin' hippies!" is *soooo* 1968.
posted by notsnot at 5:50 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


What I see in the pictures is enthusiasm and energy meeting discipline and organisation, and coming off second best.

If the protestors had years of training and uniforms supplied at the taxpayers expense, I'm sure they would have looked pretty good too. Hell, if everyone was just sticking to cudgels, I hang with people who could have routed the police three times before breakfast without funding.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:55 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Let me just say that professional protesters shit me, and with each photo I see of a protester grinning broadly, they de-value their cause more and more"

...and if they looked sullen, you'd say they were hurting their cause. What horseshit.
posted by notsnot


Um. No, I wouldn't. I would be more willing to understand their stance if they looked like they were serious about it and weren't using it as a social event.

Upon preview: Thanks for your input, notsnot, I started off putting forward my point of view in a cranky fashion, now I've tried to understand why the protesters are doing what they're doing.

Bless your heart. I'm going to bed now.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:56 AM on October 21, 2011


"Bless your heart"? Man, you sure you're not an American? That's the first listing in the Southern Belle Book of Dismissive Insults.
posted by notsnot at 5:58 AM on October 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


What changes do the protesters want? Before I support them, I need to know their aims.

The general aim is pretty clear: more equality. But beyond that, you're right: there are no specific demands being issued yet, and that makes it difficult for people to know how to relate to these sit-ins when they see them on TV or read about them in the newspapers and on the internet. In liberal democracies, we're used to being presented with party platforms and lists of policies, and asked at elections to check the boxes of the platform we like best. This protest doesn't work like that, and it's not supposed to.

It's not asking for support, but participation; you're not supposed to vote for them or send money, but to get down there (if you're nearby) and take part. That's because there's a general sense that although the vast majority of people support greater redistribution of wealth (and this has been confirmed time and time again in every poll that's asked it), there's clearly some kind of block on enacting it that the regular processes of liberal democracy--in which people are expected to go politically dormant between elections--can't overcome. The occupations are a way for people to gather together to discuss this problem, to meet and live together while they work on it, and to hopefully form some kind of embryonic movement that will be able to achieve the change that almost everyone wants, but that nobody knows how to achieve.
posted by wwwwwhatt at 5:59 AM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


malibustacey9999, I made a lame joke with the many police I spoke with today that the whole thing was a ruse to finally get Starbucks out of Melbourne.

Once things become clear it's often after the fact. The potential of the OCCUPY movement is to get ahead of events and provide a platform for discussion. Melbourne's great for that sort of thing and hopefully it continues. It would be even that much more awesome if it works for you too.
posted by michswiss at 6:06 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Considering the importance of the people who actually do the nuts and bolts shit in terms of fair compensation for their work would be a good start.
posted by h00py at 6:09 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


You don't think this is about you because you have to go to work and can't camp out? Of course it is, it's about you as an active and participating member of this society who wants corporations to contribute more than the bare minimum. For a decent dispersal of taxes straight back to the people who pay it in the form of basic infrastructure! I don't think that's too much to ask.
posted by h00py at 6:14 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am just presuming that this is what it's all about, being housebound and ages away from anything resembling more than just a faint groaning coming from my lounge room.
posted by h00py at 6:16 AM on October 21, 2011


Is this the part where I point out that I was hired through a US agency, and most employees are in Asia, but for this particular job they needed a native English speaker who understands Australian tax systems?

Just to make sure I have this strait, you're facilitating the moving of jobs to third world countries and bitching about these FIFO miners and how they're making things unaffordable for you.

You are so very fortunate that irony isn't painful.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:18 AM on October 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


Mali, you're on CONTRACT. Thirty years ago you would have been hired on at the same rate, except with full benefits and job security. You're as fucked as everyone on the streets protesting, you just don't know it.
posted by Yowser at 6:28 AM on October 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


Instead of publicising shocking media pic opportunities, perhaps they should clearly state their aims to those of us who don't understand why Australians are squatting in CBD's while the rest of us are still going about our business, living day-to-day, paying our bills, swapping from banks to credit unions to ensure that our money isn't paying bank CEO's, etc

We should note that the ideology of capitalism itself requires that these protesters - who DARE to set foot in the CBD as neither workers nor owners - are "squatting," rather than merely existing.

Similarly, that capitalist ideology causes us to criticise those they are - shamefully! - not participating in such morally valuable economic activities such as "paying bills," "moving money from one financial institution to another," and "etc" - !

Even the demand that these innocent human beings must "clearly state their aims" before they dare to appear before a television camera is a foul imposition on the fundamental freedom of all people to exist upon their own terms, and the right to silence.

Anarco-Comrades, we must expunge even the language of capitalist ideology - from which it forms its enforced "reality" - from all our deliberations. A continual protest, devoid of leadership, purpose and even unity, is therefore required - and, here in Melbourne, is manifest!

Such a nebulous, protean or even "anti-real" manifestation is necessary to defy the endlessly limiting demands of the entrenched overlords, whose mind-set cannot COPE with a rejection of the basic principles upon which it seeks to construct its justifications.

Thus the purpose of protest must be purposelessness itself. Let humanity not be forced to produce "aims" - against which, some false "Lord" judges our progress! Let us not be bound by rules and limitations that are continually COSTED by the processes of capitalism! Reject all purpose, and realise that MAKING SENSE is ITSELF is the TRUE enemy of human freedom!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:30 AM on October 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


i bet you're a minimalist, quidnunc.
posted by de at 6:33 AM on October 21, 2011


FOUCAULT WAS HERE
posted by cthuljew at 6:36 AM on October 21, 2011


Jon Faine on his opinion of the protests.(yt) (radio personality)

The things I'm seeing are
1) some people (on twitter) are jerks and going "yep, get the hippy scum off the street."
2) the majority are saying: "well, whether or not you agree with the protesters, what happened today was too violent and wrong."
3) it is surreal watching the news and seeing people you know. Stay safe, friends.
4) how are the police allowed to pull people by their heads?

---
My own analysis: yeah, Australia has it pretty good in comparison to the rest of the world. We don't see it and are complaining anyway- but I think/hope these protests are about more than that.

My own feeling/wish is for these protests to become truly global and for us to start representing the true 99%. People go hungry in our world today. Hunger is killing children RIGHT NOW. This is a tragedy.
"A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. The bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth. "
(wikipedia)

From the same article:
"only $2161 was needed in order to belong to the top half of the world wealth distribution, but to be a member of the top 10 per cent required at least $61,000 and membership of the top 1 per cent required more than $500,000 per adult." (Davies et al. 2006, p. 25)
I own a car. While my bank account isn't that high, I have access to welfare and my assets are definitely worth more than $2161. This is sobering.

Sorry to tangent. I guess what I'm saying in what is perhaps one of the most well off nations* in the world at this present moment, these protests seem silly.
However, hopefully they can enact some global change, some global equality. If they can improve our democratic process, that would be great. And police brutality is wrong.

*if you're white and live in a city I guess.
posted by titanium_geek at 6:39 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reject all purpose, and realise that MAKING SENSE is ITSELF is the TRUE enemy of human freedom!

I tend to think it's dogmatism, ignorance, short-term thinking, selfishness, ideological inflexibility, tribalism and the absence of the guiding influence of common human decency that are the true enemies of human freedom, but if you think the problem is just, um, "making sense," then I guess that makes sense--oh, wait. No, I guess it doesn't, then, since that would be bad. So I guess what I really mean to say is just fdsfsdfsdgfdsgrfgdfz grewawr12!
posted by saulgoodman at 6:41 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


fdsfsdfsdgfdsgrfgdfz grewawr12!

That's a good point actually - I hadn't thought of that. Shit.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:55 AM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


I sure respect people who are willing to get arrested. I am steadily losing faith in our local movement, as they've moved 3 times already to avoid arrest. The latest move was to an out-of-the-way park in a poor neighborhood, far from any banks or politicians or one percenters. Now they're talking about "camping" inside for the winter (in a building to which they have legal access). WTF? What's the difference between that and crashing in someone's apartment?

OK, so someone got arrested yesterday, but it was for allegedly yelling "this is a hostile takeover" in a bank. If this is true, it's monumentally stupid and hurts the credibility of the movement.
posted by desjardins at 7:05 AM on October 21, 2011


"Get a haircut and a job, you fuckin' hippies!" is *soooo* 1968.

Really? So 1968?

Well it's one two three what are we protesting for?
Good God I don't give a care.
Next stop is the public square.

Then it's five, six, seven,
Open up the sleeping bag

ain't no time to wonder why, whoopee we're all gonna whine.
posted by three blind mice at 7:20 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Australia weathered the GFC well and isn't as badly affected by the problems that gave rise to Occupy Wall Street, so its equivalent movements have largely been met with criticism.

On Wednesday in Canada, conservative commentator Michael den Tandt wrote a piece for the (very conservative) National Post on how the protesters were crybabies because even poor Canadians are relatively well-off compared to the average African or Indian. It baffles me that the conservative mindset not only keeps, "I've got mine, Jack," as a mantra but also cannot understand why not everyone does.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:22 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Group hug
posted by symbioid at 7:27 AM on October 21, 2011


whoopee we're all gonna whine.

This is starting to get really obnoxious coming from a guy who lives in goddamned Sweden, telling the rest of us what can or can't aspire to. The rest of us are just trying to fight for what you all already have.
posted by empath at 7:30 AM on October 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't want a Volvo.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:41 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Herald-Sun's reporting on this story is really appalling. It reeks of one-sided snarkiness and points fingers directly at the protesters for disobeying -- implying at every turn that they got what was coming to them. They threaten "more disruption". And they're costing us money for the police intervention (and will probably baselessly sue for damages!).

Unsurprisingly, the cheerleader for the police "taking back the city" is yet another wholly owned subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's conservative media extravaganza, News Corp.
posted by phenylphenol at 7:43 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of the media coverage, I thought it was amusing in a sad way when the ABC obviously had a "must fight perception we have left wing bias" and the headline was: "two policemen injured while clearing the Occupy Melbourne protests."
posted by titanium_geek at 7:55 AM on October 21, 2011


This is starting to get really obnoxious coming from a guy who lives in goddamned Sweden, telling the rest of us what can or can't aspire to.

It gets really rich when he pivots to American electoral politics. So, so tiresome.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:59 AM on October 21, 2011


Melbourne is an interesting contrast to Canada (which also escaped most of the nastiness of the financial crisis), where many politicians (including the governor of the Bank of Canada, Art Carney) have actually called the Occupy protests "constructive". We do have to answer for police treatment of demonstrators during the G20 summit, though...
posted by KokuRyu at 8:30 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Vancouver, we're thinking the tame police response has been more about reforming their post-riot image than anything else.

Well, we'd say that if they were beating us all to death to... but in that case they'd be reforming their image to a specific subsection of the voting public.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:40 AM on October 21, 2011


marching through the city during peak hour, disrupting traffic.

For a second there I thought it was the last friday of the month, but no worries - the march didn't interfere with Critical Mass interfering with the traffic.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:14 PM on October 21, 2011


Please do not give this embarrassing clusterfuck any more attention than it deserves.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 2:55 PM on October 21, 2011


Can I just say as one who was watching - the police acted like dumb thugs. Also WHAT the fuck did they think they were doing making this happen on Friday afternoon? If the *HAD* to do this - which they didn't why not on Saturday morning. Way to cause maximum disruption to the city's peal hour. I can' only think they chose Friday afternoon to maximise the audience. Lord Mayor Doyle is... is... a fucking dickhead.
posted by the noob at 4:07 PM on October 21, 2011


Herald Sun
Occupy Melbourne protesters promise more disruption
The noob
I can only think they chose Friday afternoon to maximise the audience.

I assume a phone call was made to someone
posted by the noob at 4:26 PM on October 21, 2011


At every protest I have ever been to in Melbourne, there have always been a small number of attention loving immature jerks who make a lot of noise.

It's very easy for someone viewing the protest from the outside to assume that confused ranting of these people is a fair representation of the whole.

Small numbers of Socialist Alternative protesters ruin many many political campaigns this way, because most people simple have no idea how to deal with their behaviour. People often conspiracy theorise that the police send in provocateurs, but given the number of lost and ranting souls that turn up to rallies, most rallies are self-disrupting.

So @malibustacey9999, on one hand I agree with every cranky rant you have let fly. At the same time, the issue the occupy movement is raising a really important - that a tightening concentration of wealth and power is eroding our societies. No one really knows how build the political momentum to deal with this problem. Given that confusion is the starting point, the huge numbers of people turning up at 'occupations' worldwide is constructive step, because it confirms the extent of the concern about these issues and focuses attention upon them.
Something different needs to happen next , but the occupy protest are helping build the momentum for that next step, whatever it is, should it happen.
posted by compound eye at 5:36 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


a tightening concentration of wealth and power is eroding our societies ... as is flash mob anarchy.
posted by de at 5:57 PM on October 21, 2011


as is flash mob anarchy

yeah, look what's happened in Bahrain
posted by the noob at 5:58 PM on October 21, 2011


un huh
posted by de at 6:00 PM on October 21, 2011


I don't support police brutality, but I don't understand these protests. We have low unemployment, strong labor laws, government healthcare... we need to protest stuff like refugee treatment.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:27 PM on October 21, 2011


The explanation I've heard from my friends who are 'occupying' Sydney (I just passed Central and nothing seems occupied) is that it's a 'solidarity protest'. In other words, they wish they were American.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:31 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


/lends LiB body armour, helmet, pillows

What changes do the protesters want? Before I support them, I need to know their aims.

Mostly, they just other people to think they're cool. Rage on, Melbourne.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:37 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


WANT other people, dammnit.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:38 PM on October 21, 2011


Here's a good article written by a protester:
The eviction of one space, the start of another
posted by titanium_geek at 9:56 PM on October 21, 2011


We also have powerful business interests, that can shift public policy to their interests to the detriment of the rest of the nation, while the politicians they sponsor distract us with nonsense like the refugee debate. It does a lot of good to attract attention to how power in this country works. While I have a lot of complaints about the activists involved in the occupy [Australian capital city] protests, they are out there attracting attention to an important issue and until you or I do something better there is little credibility to our criticisms and mockery.
posted by compound eye at 9:59 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


it's a 'solidarity protest'. In other words, they wish they were American.

You forgot Poland.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:16 AM on October 22, 2011


It does a lot of good to attract attention to how power in this country works.

I reckon I could guarantee that I could choose 100 of those protesters at random, and maybe one could give me a cogent overview of how Australia's government works, if that.

they are out there attracting attention to an important issue

Which issue would that be? That 'a tightening concentration of wealth and power is eroding our societies'? How does that work, exactly? How do you suppose it might be fixed? How much wealth and power should be taken from whom, through what means, and redistributed to whom, in what form, by what authority, pursuant to which criteria, for what benefits, and for whose benefits? How has Australian society been eroded, specifically? When did this erosion start? How do you quantify it? When did it reach an unacceptable level? How can it be reversed? What might be the unintended consequences of such action in a global economy - for investment, for exports, for jobs, for taxation, for productivity, for social welfare?

until you or I do something better there is little credibility to our criticisms and mockery.

I do something better to shape public policy every single day by turning up to work. As in, I literally write public policy, and I'm actually qualified to do so.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:22 AM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just walked by Martin Place. Literally cannot tell if it's occupied or if there are simply groups of people enjoying a lovely night. No chanting.
Even at publicity they fail, and this is a city with people who can organize good Colour Parades and Zombie Lurches.

Still, I hope the cops don't harm them.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:29 AM on October 22, 2011


Hey obiwan - could you write some public policy regarding childcare? The current situation is a great stinking pile of shit. Failing that, if you happen to meet anybody remotely related to anything to do with childcare policy, please punch them in the dick for me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:53 AM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I reckon I could guarantee that I could choose 100 of those protesters at random, and maybe one could give me a cogent overview of how Australia's government works, if that.

I've been there and spoken to them. You're wrong. Don't believe me? Try it!

How much wealth and power should be taken from whom, through what means, and redistributed to whom, in what form, by what authority, pursuant to which criteria, for what benefits, and for whose benefits? How has Australian society been eroded, specifically? When did this erosion start? How do you quantify it? When did it reach an unacceptable level? How can it be reversed? What might be the unintended consequences of such action in a global economy - for investment, for exports, for jobs, for taxation, for productivity, for social welfare?

This is precisely the debate taking place at the occupations. If you think you can contribute a useful perspective, you should speak to them.
posted by wwwwwhatt at 2:53 AM on October 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


At Occupy Canberra:

"EAT THE RICH!!1!!"

"Wait, can we backtrack a little? We need to set objective criteria first, for establishing who qualifies as 'the rich'..."

"The one percenters, man, the top 1% who are destroying the fabric of society by commodifying & selling everything"

"The top 1% in terms of income or assets?"

"What? Income I guess, whatever. These assholes control the media, they control the govern-"

"Net income or gross? Domestic only, or also foreign? Foreign data would be a diplomatic minefield, but we could get data on declared annual domestic income from the Taxation Office, although that would depend on the legality of the proposed data sharing arrangements. We should refer that issue to our legal subcommittee for advice"

"Legal subcommittee?"

"And who gets to do the eating? Citizens only? Do we include permanent residents?"

"Everyone who's not a one percenter! Especially the refugees! Yeah!"

"People who have been determined to be legal refugees by due process under the UNHCR provisions, or do we also include asylum seekers, some of whom, may I remind you, are legally outside of the migration zone, and thus not subject to the jurisdiction of these proposed oligarchophiliac laws & regulations..."

"Look, everyone who's not rich gets to eat the rich, it's not a difficult concept to understand."

"OK, so we have a mutual visa waiver scheme with New Zealand. This means that NZ residents would have the reciprocal rights to eat Australian rich, is that OK?"

"Sure, this is a global battle"

"A global battle, agreed. Now, according to income from chequebook journalism & ghostwritten memoirs, Schappelle Corby is in the top 1% of earners in Indonesia for FY10-11. Can we go for some low-hanging fruit & issue a resolution that the Indonesians can eat Schappelle Corby? It would put us right onto the front pages"

"Eat Schappelle Corby?"

"It's consistent with the policies we've been developing so far, and relations with Indonesia are tense at the moment. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade may be willing to play ball on developing some guidelines for a Free Eating Agreement with the US if we'd pass this resolution"

"All right, Indonesia to eat Schappelle Corby - put that down as passed by consensus. All this talk is making me hungry, and this discussion is dragging on way too long. I think I can smell some haloumi grilling over at the food tent..."

"Can they slaughter her halal?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:13 PM on October 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Apparently Sydney protestors are being kicked out. I found out via a glorious anti-OWS rant on Facebook that I wish I could post.
I hope my friends are okay.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:47 PM on October 22, 2011


Now it's a 'violent 5am raid'.
Way to get me on the protestors side, cops.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:57 PM on October 22, 2011


There's quite a large rally in Chicago tonight with the aim of getting the mayor to let the protesters stay at Grant Park. Streaming video here. I would expect many arrests after 11 pm CST, when the park officially closes.
posted by desjardins at 6:07 PM on October 22, 2011


Ubu, was that just a stunt comment to set up someone to claim they would eat Schappelle.?
The cops hammering the Sydney and Melbourne occupy protesters is a bad look.
They were all harmless enough, and our solidarity as aussies should be with the US (and global) 99%.
posted by bystander at 3:01 AM on October 23, 2011


..wrote a piece for the (very conservative) National Post on how the protesters were crybabies because even poor Canadians are relatively well-off compared to the average African or Indian.

Thanks to exchange rates, the average Aussie is now relatively well off compared to most Americans. I'm not counting on exchange rates to stay high forever, but it really highlights how badly the American middle class has things, especially when you consider their income is lower and they have to pay for healthcare, are victim to usurious student loands, and have such limited welfare.
posted by bystander at 3:05 AM on October 23, 2011


saw a sign via a photo on a friend's facebook: city square in Melbourne is "closed until further notice for maintenance" - to make sure it's fenced, there are cops on both sides of the fence, and dog squad members in the middle of the square.
posted by titanium_geek at 1:47 PM on October 23, 2011


There's a photo here, minus the dogs. Quite a petty move, but maybe "maintenance" is the simplest legal pretext the council has for closing off the area.

Where will protesters move to now? Out the front of the library? I'd like to see them occupy the corner opposite Trades Hall, at the base of the 888 monument.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:17 PM on October 23, 2011


Arrested Sydney protester freed by magistrate; spouts the bollocksy "natural person" defence [previously]:

"I am not a person, I am a human being," she said, going on to say she needed to "establish the jurisdiction of this court" [...] "Miss du Pille has been charged ... I as a human being have not been charged," she said
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:06 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tad Tietze has a good post about the protests: OccupyOz captures the mood, but it's critics are too busy demanding the possible to be realistic.

The Socialist Alliance et al are pretty dippy, but the presence of a few hipppies isn't enough to outweigh the fact that our government is happy to do what the public wants right up until the point where it conflicts with mining interests.

From the post:
Yet while hardship has been a major factor driving the rapid growth and spread of the American movement, drawing in large contingents of ordinary working people of different ethnic backgrounds, it cannot be understood as simply or mainly a response to some absolute level of immiseration. It is a movement that specifically argues these problems are the result not of bad policy choices or particular political parties; rather, the problem is a whole system of elite rule, which has subordinated politics and government to a tiny minority’s interests.
posted by harriet vane at 3:19 AM on October 24, 2011


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