This is Jonny. He’ll be busy at Homebush today
Kara Lawrence (Police Reporter)
The Daily Telegraph
November 14, 2002
Police say it is an “appalling” image that proves anti-World Trade Organisation protesters have violence on their minds. This man — calling himself Jonny Hammerlock — volunteered to be photographed outside the disused cinema in Parrammatta Rd, Homebush Bay, that is being used as the headquarters for today’s anti-WTO protest…
Unprompted by The Daily Telegraph, “Jonny” donned a balaclava, removed his shirt, took a marijuana-smoking “bong” with water in it and stuffed a cloth into it — clearly imitating lighting a molotov cocktail…
As The Daily Telegraph yesterday approached the Midnight Star theatre [February to December 2002*] in Parramatta Rd, which acts as a base for protesters, few were willing to talk about the plans for the protest. When Jonny found out there was a media crew present, he said: “You’re all c…s.”
He denied us access into the building, shutting the security door and saying, “We have our orders.”
He later changed his mind, volunteering to be photographed, but would not be interviewed, saying, “I’m not a spokesperson.”
Fast forward almost five years:
‘I’ll be the one throwing rocks’
September 6, 2007
A MEMBER of a protest group involved in clashes with police around the world has said they are ready for violence at this week’s anti-APEC march through Sydney, as police issue dire warnings of the threat of crowd trouble.
The protester, whom NEWS.com.au will not name, is part of a group known as Black Bloc, whose members dress head to toe in black at anti-globalisation protests around the world. He has said he is prepared for violence to break out, but added the protesters also have a serious point to get across.
Similar groups include Arterial Bloc – whose members dress in white and are alleged to have been involved in violence at last year’s G20 protest in Melbourne – and Red Bloc, which is also planning to join the anti-APEC march.
He has said the bloc is not, as is widely reported, a single organisation but is instead a collection of smaller groups. He has said members block off streets, “un-arrest” people being taken away by police and give first aid to those injured in clashes – and can also engage in violence themselves.
“I know what to do in case of a riot, or police violence. If things turn rough and there’s a scuffle with the police, I can’t lie, I’d be one of the people throwing rocks,” he said.
“Most Black Bloc activity is peaceful, it’s just the few violent protests that gives Black Blocs a bad name. Black Bloc do dangerous things, yes, but in the struggle for a better world.”
The top riot squad officer in New South Wales, Chief Superintendent Stephen Cullen, told the state’s Supreme Court yesterday that a full-scale riot is “probable” and that he was braced for the worst violence of his career.
“Police lines will come under attack and a full-scale riot is probable,” he told the court during the hearing that has seen the protest march route moved away from the declared area in central Sydney.
The Black Bloc activist has said he is expecting the protest, planned for Saturday morning in central Sydney, to turn violent. And he has admitted part of him wants the rally to turn rough.
“A part of me does and a part of me doesn’t. There’s something in everyone that makes them want to riot.
“I’m worried about cops taking it too far. I’m worried about protesters taking it too far… But this is more important than just rioting. It’s about having our opinions heard.”
He has said the protesters have a right to show their dissent at what he called the “disgusting” policies of John Howard and George W. Bush.
“Everyone protesting is protesting because we have a sense of conscience and know that what people like Howard and Bush are doing is wrong. Wars for oil, keeping the poor poor, letting the world get more and more polluted until we’re pretty much screwed. It’s [disgusting.]”
But he has acknowledged that the strict security measures in place for the APEC summit will make it hard to be heard by those in power.
“World leaders will barely notice us because we’re being kept back so far, which is why we need try to our hardest to make a big noise and force them to listen. I’d settle for a peaceful protest resulting in protesters’ views being taken seriously.”
- Uh-huh. In other ‘news’:
AC/DC condemns police action in court today that led to march ban
September 5, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In court today [Wednesday, September 5] police named the groups AC/DC, Mutiny, Arterial Bloc and the Socialist Party and said that they would be at the rally on Saturday and that this was a reason to refuse permission for Saturday’s planned protest route.
AC/DC condemns the linking of our name to threats of violence. The police are engaging in unfounded scare mongering and they are using this orchestrated smear campaign to undermine civil rights.
AC/DC is working with Stop Bush and Flare in the Void and other groups to enable a mobilisation on the basis of collective safety against police violence on Saturday.
“We have been working together to keep people safe from police violence,” said AC/DC spokesperson Liz Turner. She said “the police have a water cannon, they have erected massive concrete walls. These pose a major threat to public safety.”
Today Stop Bush said that they support civil disobedience. So does AC/DC. Liz Turner points out that “the result of the police actions today is that by simply participating in the march on Saturday everyone will be participating in civil disobedience”.
- Stop Bush organisers have apparently voted to accept teh police re-drafting the route of the march.
Liz Thompson went on to say that “Stop Bush has always maintained that the march will go ahead, whether it has a permit or not. We support this position.”
She went on to say that “as we have said all along, it is the police who have planned to use violence in the lead up to APEC. This stunt in court is the latest police action to deflect their own threat of violence onto the protesters and protest organisers. It won’t work. It is ridiculous to try and blame us for the broader violence of the policies of APEC and the NSW police.”
Liz Turner stated that “the NSW police are constructing urban militarism on the streets of Sydney and the people of Sydney won’t stand for it. People have the right to respond with anger.”
AC/DC would like journalists to note that police undermine the credibility of the evidence they presented to court today by naming Mutiny and Arterial Bloc.
AC/DC point out that Arterial Bloc only existed for a day in 2006 and [is] not an ongoing entity and that Mutiny are not involved in organising APEC protests. Either police are knowingly using these group’s names as paper tigers in an orchestrated smear campaign or they have a very poor quality of intelligence data.
We repeat, Arterial Bloc [does] not exist! Anyone who read their call-out in 2006 should know this.
- * A group in Sydney named ‘SquatSpace’ (“artists and activists engaged with the politics and pleasures of space in the city”) states with regards Social Centres in Australia:
“The social centre movement in Australia is a new concept. The most visible display began in earnest with a push from a group of activists galvanised by the example of the Broadway squats, Sydney 2000. The Social Centre Autonomous Network (SCAN) formed as a collection of self organised groups who make decisions through the network to occupy and organise around squatted social centres. SCAN aim to liberate property from real estate loop-holes, where owners sit on their properties, letting them rot away. SCAN wants to make spaces outside the boredom of work and consumption — spaces for creativity and social change beyond standard protests, like petitions and rallies…”
In reality, the practice of squatting buildings for ‘social’ as opposed to purely ‘private’ (residential) purposes has a long history. To cite one example, on January 1, 1987 (1987 having been designated International Year of Shelter for the Homeless) squatters occupied a disused cafe opposite Princess Pier in Port Melbourne. Subsequent activities included the usual array of meetings, workshops, benefit gigs, film screenings, performances, a cafe (needless to say!), etcetera.
To cite another, more recent example: The Brown Warehouse in Wellington Street, Collingwood (now a yuppie apartment complex). First squatted in the late ’80s as a cafe and performance space, it was re-squatted in the mid- ’90s, and used for much the same purposes (Dropdead even played a gig there), at first providing temporary accommodation in the city for forest blockaders, later becoming a more permanent residential and social space.
In a related case, during the 1980s and into the early- ’90s, the Squatters Union of Victoria: maintained an office and meeting space (in an abandoned fire station in North Fitzroy); produced a radio show; distributed a bi-monthly zine (Squat It!), conducted a weekly community cafe; operated a telephone advice service; produced leaflets, stickers and various other forms of propaganda (in addition to the bi-monthly zine); organised benefit gigs; resisted evictions; and engaged in various other activities in solidarity with others engaged in workplace (for example, the BLF) and community struggles.