Occupy Melbourne ~versus~ Robert Doyle

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has declared he’s had enough of the unhappy campers occupying the City Square and that they should pack up their tents and go. Just how much time the occupiers have left before Doyle instructs the police to evict them is unknown at this stage (”I would think days,” he said), but if history is any guide, they may have reason to hope for a stay of execution.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were among 16 Tasmanian Aborigines who were brought to Melbourne in 1839 by the protector of Aborigines, George Robinson, to “civilise” the Victorian Aborigines.

In late 1841, the two men and three women, stole two guns and waged a six-week guerilla-style campaign in the Dandenongs and on the Mornington Peninsula, burning stations and killing two sealers.

They were charged with murder and tried in Melbourne. Their defence counsel was Redmond Barry, who questioned the legal basis of British authority over Aborigines. (Thirty-nine years later, Barry would sentence Ned Kelly to hang.)

The women were acquitted and the men found guilty, although the jury made a plea for clemency on account of the “peculiar circumstances”.

Judge Willis ignored the request and the men were hanged in front of 5000 people — a quarter of Victoria’s white population — from gallows erected on a small rise near what is now the corner of Bowen and Franklin streets. Their bodies are buried under the Queen Victoria Market.

167 years later, in June 2008, the Melbourne City Council Community Services Committee agreed to consider establishing a memorial to Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner. Despite Robert Doyle voicing public support for the project in January 2009, over three years later, the Committee is still wondering what to do.

The moral of this story? Possession is 9/10 of the law.

The best way [to procure a run] is to go outside and take up a new run, provided the conscience of the party is sufficiently seared to enable him without remorse to slaughter natives left and right. It is universally and distinctly understood that the chances are very small indeed of a person taking up a new run being able to maintain possession of his place and property without having recourse to such means – sometimes by wholesale . . . (9 December 1839)

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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16 Responses to Occupy Melbourne ~versus~ Robert Doyle

  1. anonymous (note lower-case) says:

    As long as possession isn’t bartered away by our “spokespeople.”

  2. @ndy says:

    As long as the re-presented retain the ability to contradict the re-presentative, nothing much can be bartered. I think?

  3. @ndy says:

    Also: the general assembly last night apparently agreed that, while haters gonna hate, campers gonna carry on camping. Presumably, future statements to The Controlled Media will reflect this position.

  4. LeftInternationalist says:

    The Occupiers need some kind of theoretical unity on some basic points, which they can then use to push for their goals. See Chomsky hanging out with the Norwegian anarchist communists, discussing libertarian socialism in theory and practice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVNq8knHGew

  5. @ndy says:

    Victoria Police Speak to OM Protestors

    Inspector Bernie Jackson of the Melbourne East police station this afternoon met with Occupy Melbourne protestors today to discuss a potential eviction scenario.

    Jackson stressed that Victoria Police does not have the authority on its own to prosecute the eviction, and instead will wait for Melbourne City Council’s instructions on how to proceed.

    Inspector Jackson said that once an eviction notice had been served, a “reasonable time” would be given for protestors to voluntarily vacate City Square. “Reasonable time will be given in hours, as in a number of hours,” said Jackson. He qualified: “it’s not going to be in the middle of the night.”

    Inspector Jackson further discussed Victoria Police’s likely course of action should an eviction order be issued. When the police arrive on site, protestors will be again asked to leave voluntarily. Anyone who refuses to leave will be forcibly removed from City Square by police officers.

    Inspector Jackson told the crowd that he was satisfied with the current state of relations between police and the Occupy Melbourne protestors.

    Inspector Jackson’s statement will be discussed at the nightly General Assembly, to be held at 6pm this evening on the north side of City Square.

    Jackson was challenged by a number of vocal members of the crowd, including Indigenous activist Robbie Thorpe.

    Mr Thorpe asked Jackson: “If the by-laws [relating to the Summary Offences Act’s powers for eviction] relate to the Aboriginal people and if so, how?”

    Inspector Jackson responded that the police force was required to follow the directions of the Melbourne City Council with regard to the eviction of protestors.

    Mr Thorpe later told Occupy Melbourne’s media liaison team that any eviction notice served on the protestors is likely to be immediately challenged in the courts.


    Nick Carson, media spokesperson, 0438 428 116
    Tal Slome, media spokesperson, 0421 652 642

  6. @ndy says:

    @LeftInternationalist: Sure, maybe. But it would seem to me that at this point, the basic unity required is: a) we’re occupying the square and; b) we will end the occupation when we choose to (ie, not when the Lord Mayor happens to feel like ordering the police to disperse the occupation). This unity is both theoretical but, moreover, practical. Beyond that, my understanding is that anybody can propose stuff to the general assembly. Secondly, I see no reason why others cannot act autonomously.

  7. LeftInternationalist says:

    I’m not against people acting with autonomy- after all, among other things, I do have sympathies towards a strong amount of autonomy in any systemic alternative, as a guarantee of liberty and free association- while recognising you need a certain amount of coordination at some level to have a functional alternative that can incorporate and defend that freedom through radically democratic and emancipatory institutions. I would agree what the Occupiers in general are doing is practical, in that they don’t expect to get anything except through the government being forced to make concessions, and putting up stiff resistance to getting evicted, etc. But ideas do matter as well. The main tendency of this movement worldwide seems to have two major dynamics- many claim it is beyond ‘left and right’/’beyond politics’ while it articulates pretty clear leftist demands- and the other dynamic seems to be that of a left reformism, infused with some radical rhetoric. Richard Seymour’s got an interesting perspective on Occupy London over at Lenin’s Tomb http://leninology.blogspot.com/2011/10/visiting-occupy-london.html Radicals are crawling all other these things, but they’ve yet to really articulate their perspective beyond militant defence of the movement/uncompromising resistance. Though I have heard that people and even book publishers have been turning up at Occupy Wall St and everyone is hungry for books, for ideas, having heated discussions, etc, so I can imagine a few Communist Manifestos/Critique of the Gotha Program/The Conquest of Bread/Statism and Anarchy/Crimethinc and Libertarian Communist Federation stuff/International Socialist Organisation pamphlets, papers, and Haymarket Books stuff/Parecon/Chomskyite kind of radical texts floating around, as well as liberal mush by people like Paul Krugman turning up. Things are heading in the right direction- but we need to help make sure it doesn’t degenerate into something worthless, a merely symbolic act that achieves little. This is our future we are talking about, after all.

  8. @ndy says:

    I agree that ideas matter. So too, the manner in which they’re arrived at, and what it means for individuals to articulate ideas. Or as Eugene Debs put it: “I don’t want you to follow me or anyone else. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I could lead you in, somebody else would lead you out.”

    The thing about being beyond left and right (which has its own, peculiar and interesting genealogy) I think can be interpreted moar charitably as a reluctance to become embroiled in political partisanship, and as an expression of the unwillingness of individuals to align themselves with something as abstract as these sorts of terms and concepts. It would and can be just as productive to allow individuals to express their concerns and their commitments without at the same time seeking to locate them within this dichotomy.

    Beyond this, the clear articulation of, say, some left-wing perspective allows for individuals to consider their own position and, perhaps, to agree or disagree that such formulations apply to them; the underlying assumption being that individuals are able and willing to perform these kinds of rational calculations: a not-unreasonable expectation. Further, while the dissemination of various radical texts may be useful in this context, the moar valuable aspect, perhaps, of such encounters lies in the possibilities they provide for face-to-face conversation, discussion and debate. After all, most have access to these texts online, and can review them at their leisure.

    Finally, it seems to me that there’s a plethora of writings on the Occupy movement from a left-wing perspective: Richard Seymour’s is one of many. The problem, if it is one, seems to me to lie moar in the adoption or non-adoption of such articulations by the movement as a whole, or even any particular group of occupiers. If help is to be provided, I think it should be done with respect for others’ capacity to absorb or reject such perspectives. We learn as well as teach.

  9. LeftInternationalist says:

    By ‘we learn as well as teach’ that definitely seems to be summed up by the Zapatista aphorism ‘asking, we walk’. Yes, I agree on the face to face part- that is what will be the most interesting, exciting, learning experience for the people in the movement, and the radical literature will most likely be supplementary to the actual living breathing movement. Building new social relations is important to, a ‘cultural revolution’ if you like, a ‘revolution of values’- though I do tend to shy away from the word culture, because it seems like virtually every single culture has oppressive aspects to it, and we do not want to reproduce oppressive social relations. And as much as I can spout off ideology and rhetoric on the internet, that’s nothing compared to a real movement- in fact, I myself have had little experience of movements at all, to be honest. And I do crave involvement in something like this more than just reading radical literature in books and online, as much as I do like to explore the ideas- and the ability to imagine an alternative that is better than capitalism is absolutely essential, as that seems to be something many lack- but they can always imagine something worse- i.e. fascism, Stalinism, or even the end of the world. Grace Lee Boggs has done some interesting work on alternative modes of human interaction and healthy communities, often situated in the context of activism http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520272590 Actually, if there was one book in the whole world that I would want to see a mass circulation of, and that I’d like to see turning up in the Occupy movement, it’s Anticapitalism by Ezequiel Adamovsky http://www.sevenstories.com/book/?GCOI=58322100857110 It is simply the best book for mass circulation- you can finish it in perhaps 2 hours straight or so, and the text is backed up by excellent illustrations that really make the points very, very clearly- and a picture is worth a thousand words.

  10. @ndy says:

    On the origins of the EZLN, there’s an i/view with Marcos in the August 1994 issue of Love & Rage, which I’m unable to locate online unfortunately. But basically, as other accts outline, they evolved in response to their conditions and in order to survive as some kinda revolutionary project.


    Grace Lee Boggs’ message to Occupy Wall Street – 10/9/11 from American Revolutionary on Vimeo.

  11. @ndy says:

    Cr Doyle said council would give the protesters sufficient time to pack up their belongings before police and council workers were drafted in.

    “At some point we’re going to have to say your time is up and that time is rapidly approaching,” he said.

    “I’m not going to reveal the strategic planning going on behind the scenes at the city and with the police, but we will have a comprehensive, carefully thought through public safety strategy to put in place when we ask them to give the City Square back to the people of Melbourne.”

    Premier Ted Baillieu yesterday echoed Cr Doyle’s call for the protesters to move along.

  12. @ndy says:


    See it on television every day
    Hear it on the radio
    It ain’t humid but it sure is hot
    Down in Mexico

    Boss man tryin’ to tell me
    Beginnin’ of the end
    Sayin’ it’ll bend me
    Too late my friend

    Riff raff
    It’s good for a laugh
    Riff raff
    Laugh yourself in half

    Now I’m the kind of guy that keeps his big mouth shut
    It don’t bother me
    Somebody kickin’ me when I’m up
    Leaves me in misery

    I never shot nobody
    Don’t even carry a gun
    I ain’t doin’ nothin’ wrong
    I’m just havin’ fun

    Riff raff
    It’s good for a laugh
    Riff raff
    Laugh yourself in half

  13. Pingback: Whose Square? Who’s on First? #occupymelb | slackbastard

  14. Derek says:

    OOOOH! SUH-NAP, Mr Doyle!

    “give the City Square back to the people of Melbourne”.

    That is some niiiiice dodgy rhetoric.

    What’s that panel say at Balaclava station, in the two-metre-tall chrome letters? Oh, that’s right, “Fuck Doyle”. Kid should stop frontin’ ‘fore homies beat down on his wack ass.

  15. @ndy says:

    What am I s’pose to do now?

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