In search of the elusive G20 urine bombers
November 20, 2006
According to Treasurer Peter Costello at the weekend, demonstrators at the G20 forum in Melbourne were “throwing balloons filled with urine at police”.
[“They have been throwing balloons filled with urine at police, throwing bottles, throwing road signs, damaging vehicles and otherwise engaging in violence,” Mr Costello said. “Who knows what motivates them? Who knows why they try to engage in violence? Who knows what misguided politics they have?” : ‘G20 protesters throw urine’, Marc Moncrief and Dan Harrison, The Age, November 18, 2006.]
So who were these people? Were they caught on camera? Were they arrested? With a heavy media presence and every other person wielding a camera, why does no snapshot or witness of these urine-throwing thugs exist?
So in search of the urine-bombers, we went to the police themselves. This morning police media spokesperson told Crikey: “We’re not aware of any specific incidents of urine-throwing.”
Where, then, did the Treasurer get his information? Costello said the urine-throwers at G20 were “a hardcore militant and violent” group “organised for violence, who have been trained for violence.” If the Federal Treasurer knew of an “organised … militant” group “trained” for “violence”, why hasn’t it been charged under terror laws?
Or was the Treasurer fantasising? “Urine-filled balloons are to contemporary protests what bayoneted babies were to the First World War,” says Radical Melbourne author Jeff Sparrow. “The ‘urine-filled-balloons’ fantasy seems to have originated after a protest against Pauline Hanson, at which people tossed water bombs at [boneheads] going into her rally. Some of the balloons had been filled from a hot water tap … thus sparking the first report of flung urine.”
“Thereafter, it became a staple of demo journalism. Without fail, each time a protest caused controversy the urine balloons (or condoms) would appear. Of course, if you think about it for a minute, the whole idea is ridiculous. I mean, how do you fill a balloon full of urine — drink a lot of coffee and beer, and then attach a balloon to the relevant appendage, in the middle of a crowd?”
It’s possible the Federal Treasurer, like The Australian and Herald-Sun reports, confused persistent fables of urine-throwers with actual G20 “demonstrators” who threw street signs and smashed a police vehicle for television cameras[?]. Reportedly unknown to protest organisers, the group’s tactics have been condemned by moderate [sic] demonstrators, with eleven reported arrests.
But why, in the Federal Treasurer’s mind, were there ”no reported arrests” of those unshakable urine-grenaders who, like vampires, never appear on camera? The Treasurer’s office was contacted, but didn’t provide a response in time for this article.