Re Sydney: Over 10,000 riot against war

Pip, Peter & Zoe ppz at greenleft.org.au
Wed Mar 26 04:46:41 MST 2003


Below is a press release from Books Not Bombs which today organised
nation-wide student walkouts and protests against the war around
Australia.

The Sydney rally was a real inspiration and a good follow on from the
successful March 5 student walkouts which pulled more than 30,000 high
school students around the country. The students hit the city between
10.30am to 5pm and sent major roads, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge
into gridlock!

The cops were total bullies, punching school students, slamming them up
against walls and onto the ground. Shame on the Carr Labor government
for setting its riot thugs and mounted police on school students.

At the end of the rally about 500 of the demonstrators were corralled in
by hundreds of riot police outside Prime Minister John Howard's office
and prevented from leaving for two hours. This provocation sparked more
clashes and arrests. Eventually we were allowed to leave one by one and
submitted to individual searches. Students of Middle Eastern appearance
where treated more roughly. In fact the whole police operation was
racist and the media orgy that followed even more so. But that's the
politics of this Labor run state. Labor Premier Carr trades on racism
and law and order politics.

If the cops think they intimidated the students with this
heavy-handedness, I think they are mistaken.  Most students today came
from schools in working class suburbs. They face police harrassment and
racism every day.

Today some 3000 mainly high school students also protested in Perth (and
were also attacked by mounted police). Other March 26 numbers I have
heard so far include 3,000 in Melbourne, 8,000 in Adelaide, 300 in
Geelong, 500 in Lismore and 100 in Wollongong. Brisbane, I haven't
heard. On Monday in Canberra about 300 high school students walked out
against war.

Several people on the far left in Australia have been preaching the
importance of civil disobedience - but the March 5 & March 26 student
Books Not Bombs (see <http://www.booksnotbombs.org.au/> ) walkouts have
actually delivered mass civil disobedience against the war. Other
sectors should follow this good example and join the students in support
on April 2.

Peter Boyle
peterb at dsp.org.au

***

Books Not Bombs Sydney
4pm, March 26 2003

Media release *** Media release
Students threaten to shut Sydney down if war is not ended

High school and campus protesters today at their successful
10,000-strong rally issued an ultimatum to Howard to withdraw Australian
troops from the Gulf within seven days or the city of Sydney will be
shut down.

The students are calling on other sectors of the community to support
them in their protest on April 2 and say that the police violence at
today's rally will not deter them.

"Students are passionate about stopping this war", said  Simon Butler,
one of the organisers. "We're appealing to unions, parents, teachers and
others to support us."

Some 70 schools and three campuses participated in the protest despite
the NSW police's scare campaign aimed at breaking parents and teachers
from supporting the protest. Many parents, teachers and principals
supported the protest, and many parents accompanied their children to
the demonstration.

Organisers condemned the actions of Bob Carr's police which they
described as "provocative" and "intimidatory". "The police presence was
completely over the top and unwarranted. The use of horses and sniffer
dogs against anti-war youth is outrageous", said Lauren Carroll Harris.
"But the police's actions will backfire on them."

Several hundred police, including many on horse back and tactical
response group units, initially tried to disperse the protest, then
attempted to prevent the march from proceeding. This is despite the
organisers having the march permits.

In one incident, half a dozen police violently seized two 10-year olds
and charged one with "breach of the peace".  Large numbers of students
who were demanding that the students be released were violently shoved
by police and at one stage batons were drawn.

Students plan to demonstrate again next Wednesday April 2 at 1pm at Hyde
Park.

As of 4pm, police have encircled 400 students in front of Howard's
office and are refusing to let them leave peacefully. Police are
seemingly targeting students of Arabic and Middle Eastern appearance.

For more information or comment phone:
Lauren Carroll Harris - 9690 1977
Simon Butler - 0405 733 768

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