Friday, March 23, 2012

The day police invaded the Nyoongar Tent Embassy

This is what the Nyoongar Tent Embassy looked like before the police invaded. This photo was taken on Thursday March 22 - about one hour before the police arrived. These Embassy representatives were waving at traffic on the Causeway and getting a lot of positive responses from passers by.

It wasn't all waving at cars. This image below also sums up what the Embassy has been like for most of the six weeks of its existence: calm and tranquil and proudly asserting Aboriginal culture and sovereignty.

Matagarup (Heirisson Island), where the Embassy is located, is a beautiful place to be. People at the Embassy have enjoyed watching the birds, dolphins, kangaroos and other wildlife on or near the Island. The Embassy staff have cleaned up the Island significantly - and kept it clean!

Then the police arrived! The day before, police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said that he was waiting for instructions from Perth City Council to "clean up" the Embassy. Talkback radio shock jocks were egging them on, including, shamefully ABC's Geoff Hutchison!

The police came with horses, dog squad, tasers, guns and large numbers - over sixty police and 15 council rangers.

The Embassy response was completely dignified!

"This is our sanctuary, and you have no rights to come here and even to stand there," one of the activists said to police when they arrived. Police were told calmly and in a dignified way that they were not welcome and had no jurisdiction on sovereign Aboriginal land. Herbert Bropho told the police that the Embassy did not want violence and that any violence was being brought by the police.

Then we marched away from the police to the far end of the Island.  You couldn't get a more powerful proof that the Embassy staff were not looking for a confrontation. This proves that the comments by premier Colin Barnett and others in recent days were lies. Barnett has been invited many times to come to the Island and talk the Embassy representatives. He has refused to come. Other refusing to visit include opposition leader Mark McGowan, police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan and most of the media front people who have falsely vilified the Embassy to the public.

We marched to Yagan's statue. Yagan was a Nyoongar resistance fighter against European colonisation.

At the statue it was revealed: "we have a brand new tent" to put up. The Embassy lives.

But then police moved in. Not content with watching the whole Embassy literally walk away from any prospect of violence, the cops moved in deliberately to provoke arrests, confrontation and to try to take away from the positive image that would otherwise have been on the media.

That's when the three arrests happened. (A fourth arrest took place later.)

Cops pushed three good people down onto the ground, treated them roughly, for no good reason.

Then one of the worst incidents of the day took place. This is Shilo Harrison shortly before she was rushed by a police horse. You can see that she is carrying a baby, outraged by the actions of police in front of her but doing nothing that would warrant being charged by a mounted cop.

This photo gets across the horror on Shilo's face as she suddenly realises that she is in danger while she is trying to protect a very young baby (not her own). I think everyone who saw that incident can appreciate the horror of the situation.

This is an uncropped version of the same photo which shows the people on the left reacting to the situation.

The same picture is clear from this image taken moments later.

Video interview with Shilo Harrison just after the police attack

Yes, it was you cops who came in and provoked this confrontation.

The Embassy regrouped. They never left the Island.

You can't kill the spirit which is strong.

Eventually the cops marched off, with three arrests, a bunch of equipment seized, but they didn't manage to break the Embassy and they didn't manage to break the spirit.

With actions like these, it is no wonder that signs like these have been making an appearance around the Embassy site in recent weeks!