G20: OPERATION SALVER: A CRACKDOWN ON THE RIGHT TO PROTEST (Media release)

[Update : If your photo is in The Age gallery or on CrimeStoppers, these are good places to get legal advice:

Essendon Community Legal Centre: 9376 7929
Fitzroy Legal Service: 9419 3744
Western Suburbs Community Legal Centre: 9391 2244

See also: Police release G20 ‘people of interest’ photos, Dan Oakes, The Age, January 19, 2007: “Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O’Gorman slammed the decision to release the pictures, describing as it as an “impermissible and unfair practice… Because of the longstanding court rules that where identity is an issue, photographs should not be published, the police, in publishing these photographs, have gone beyond what is permissible and should be criticised for it,” he said. But Liberty Victoria vice-president Jamie Gardiner said he believed that the police were entitled to release the pictures if they were acting in good faith in an attempt to identify and find the subjects. However, defence lawyers might have a different view, he said.” | G20 faces in frame, Mark Buttler, Herald Sun, January 19, 2007 | Stop the G20 witch-hunt!, Green Left Weekly, January 13, 2007]

Following today’s announcement of two more arrests in connection to last November’s G20 protest, and the launch of a joint police- and corporate media- sponsored publicity blitz in an attempt to identify 28 individuals police, as part of Operation / Task Force Salver, claim are in some way connected to their criminal proceedings, a collective that has formed in order to support G20 arrestees has released the following statement to local media:

OPERATION SALVER: A CRACKDOWN ON THE RIGHT TO PROTEST
January 19, 2007

Protests are an important part of participatory democracy. The aim of the arrests and house searches that have followed the G20 protests is to intimidate a group of young, politically-engaged people and stifle dissent more generally.

The laying of charges such as riot and affray constitutes a gross over-reaction by police, in the face of what was overwhelmingly a peaceful demonstration. Police have described their investigation — Operation Salver — as being concerned with “the upper end of criminality”. This statement is so exaggerated as to be absurd.

[See, for example, Police make further arrests over G20 protests, ABC, January 18, 2006: Superintendent Richard Grant says it is likely more charges will be laid. “These 28 people of interest are of significant interest to Victoria Police,” he said. “We’re dealing with an investigation that’s at the upper end of criminality. There’s serious offences of riot, affray, injuries to police and the damage to property.”]

In fact, the intimidation and mass arrests which have followed last November’s G20 protests is part of a wider process of the criminalisation of protest and the silencing of political opposition.

The protests surrounding the November meeting aimed to highlight issues discussed at forums such as G20, where decisions are made about war, poverty, labour rights and climate change that impact on the planet and its people.

The G20 protests were widely reported as being a raucous affair that, on occasion, tipped over into violence. Coverage of the protests has often been tinged with hysteria, and rumour has consistently been reported as fact.

In contrast to inflated and often inaccurate depictions of ‘protestor violence’, media coverage has overwhelmingly failed to mention or acknowledge the violence and excessive force used by police over the course of the weekend.

The posting of peoples’ photos along with the caption ‘Taskforce Salver’ and alongside media articles on the violence of the protests implies that those people are guilty or are implicated in actions, where they may not necessarily be facing any charges.

While police have yet to reveal whether the 28 people are witnesses or stated offenders, they are named on the Crime Stoppers website as ‘most wanted’. This implication of guilt has potentially severe consequences for the civil liberties and rights of those identified.

We refute the argument of Detective Superintendent Richard Grant of the Salver Task force that ‘Victoria police respect the rights of individuals and the community to protest and express their opinions lawfully’, as on many occasions peaceful protestors were treated with excessive force and prevented from lawfully protesting outside.

In particular, the peaceful protest outside Melbourne Museum on the Sunday was broken up by police with extreme and well-documented violence that left many injured, with one woman so badly hurt she required hospitalisation.

This media release was written by a collective in support of G20 arrestees.

For further comment contact: Jonathon Collerson on 0438 136 093.

Between November 18, 2006 and January 18, 2007, according to UNICEF estimates, approximately 1,830,000 children under the age of five have died as a result of poverty-related causes — chiefly hunger, malnutrition and disease; largely “easily treated or prevented killers such as pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases“.

This is a real pity. Even tax-dodging multi-millionaire rock * (Sir) Bono says so. And contemplating the agony millions of children endure as they die each year of such easily-preventable diseases is possibly only matched by the distress he experienced when one of his former employees stole his Stetson hat. Contemplating his misfortune — soon remedied by the forces of law and order — did not, however, prevent Bono from condemning bad people at G20. And in turn, Australian Treasurer Peter Costello ‘said Bono spoke highly of the Australian economy. “He was very complimentary of Australian economic management and the progress that he’s observed in the Australian economy,” Mr Costello said.’

In any case, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Here’s the good — in fact, great — news:

Billionaire Bacchanalia
Edited by Luisa Kroll and Allison Fass
Forbes
March 27, 2006

In its inaugural ranking of the world’s richest people 20 years ago FORBES uncovered some 140 billionaires. Just three years ago we found 476. This year [2006] the list is a record 793, up 102 from last year. They’re worth a combined $2.6 trillion, up 18% since last March. Their average net worth: $3.3 billion…

Bill Gates retains his title as the world’s richest person for the twelfth straight year, proving that while it’s getting easier to make a billion, the same can’t be said for making $50 billion…

“An individual cannot know what he really is until he has realized himself through action … The interest the individual finds in something is already the answer to the question of whether he should act and what should be done.”

— Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit

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 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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3 Responses to G20: OPERATION SALVER: A CRACKDOWN ON THE RIGHT TO PROTEST (Media release)

  1. Dr. Cam says:

    My mum thought I was Number 16.

  2. Dimma says:

    No, I am Spartacus!

  3. sparx says:

    If you use internet explorer, before you can view the 28 “people of interest” you have to look at a BMW pop-up add and — wait a second! I SAW a BMW today! I better go call the terror hotline – I mean, the Age – I mean, crimestoppers. (God, they must be so sick of me by now.)

    Don’t worry Dr. Cam – if you weren’t there they can always photoshop you in later…

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