“The small and peaceful Treasury Gardens sit between Fitzroy Gardens and Spring Street, and are a popular venue for community events and rallies”–but not, obviously, as far as VicPol is concerned and especially not when the event and/or rally has been organised by Occupy Melbourne. So after assembling at the Gardens in the early afternoon on Saturday it was back to the city: first to RMIT and Bowen Street and then, after a contentious meeting, the State Library.
Well, for some at any rate: another mob decided it would be moar funs to occupy Edinburgh Gardens in North Fitzroy, a property owned and managed by Yarra City Council. Their decision to do so is–apparently–a point of contention, as it contradicts the decision of the (9th) General Assembly to re-locate from RMIT to the State Library.
In any case, the chief problem confronting occupiers had (and has) both a legal and a political dimension. The dimension populated by law-talking guys–that is, the legal realm–concerns the problem of locating a property within central Melbourne on which it would be lawful to camp. Not surprisingly, such nominally public property is so scarce as to be almost non-existent. The problem is further compounded when such paltry forms as do exist are controlled by hostile institutions such as the Melbourne City Council (under Robert Doyle) and other nominally public institutions such as RMIT (under fellow neo-con Margaret Gardner).
Outside of/in addition to/and if necessary against the law is the political context in which the Occupy movement manifests itself locally. Or, the intersection between what occupiers hope to achieve by their actions and their willingness to risk violent repression in pursuing these goals. It’s at this point that individuals tend to part company, often literally. Occupy Melbourne’s 10th General Assembly will be held at 4pm later today (Sunday) at the State Library.
Oddly enough, another (peace) camp was established at the State Library 10 years ago. It was gonna last ’til the end of the war on terror but didn’t quite make it…
Protesters vow to stay put
October 31, 2001
AUTHORITIES claim they are powerless to evict a band of unruly protesters illegally camped on the lawns of the State Library.
A legal loophole means the hands of police are tied unless the State Library formally requests help.
But the library is refusing – insisting it wants to convince the protesters to leave voluntarily.
The State Government and the City of Melbourne are also distancing themselves from the protest, now in its 19th day.
Premier Steve Bracks backed the police’s stance that it was the library’s responsibility to ask for police help if it was needed.
And Lord Mayor John So condemned the illegal campsite, but said it was outside the council’s jurisdiction, and refused to comment on whether police should intervene.
The defiant band of anti-war protesters have transformed the formerly glorious Swanston St forecourt into an appalling eyesore.
Graffiti is scrawled on statues, stickers have defaced signs, electrical tape has been used to post flyers and the lawn is covered with huge patches of dead grass.
Giant tarpaulins are strung up alongside smaller tents, with ropes looped around historic and fragile lamp posts more than 100 years old.
Superintendent Mick Williams, in charge of city policing, said his officers could do nothing.
“The library property comes under the State Library Act, and for the police to take any action we would have to be requested by the State Library,” he said.
“Under the trespassing provisions of the Act, we would have to be requested by an authorised person from the library.”
State Library staff have repeatedly told the protesters they are trespassing and breaking library by-laws — but beyond that have opted for negotiating with protesters rather than asking for police help.
“We want a peaceful outcome rather then calling in police, because the library respects the right of people to express a point of view,” State Library head Fran Awcock said.
The library has offered the protesters space for a large information tent by day if they clear out by night, and is hopeful of reaching a resolution at a 10am meeting today.
Furious residents and businesses have demanded authorities take tougher action.
“It’s absolutely appalling,” Residents 3000 secretary Russell Howard said. “It’s a hideous eyesore. What disappoints us is the lack of backbone of any of our elected leaders to fix it.”
Up to 60 protesters share about a dozen tents in the 24-hour peace vigil.
They yesterday vowed to stay until the war against terrorism was over – years if necessary.