Friday, June 19, 2015
Perth City Council and WA Police raided the Nyoongar encampment at Matagarup (Heirisson Island) at 7am on June 18. Tents were seized, move-on notices issued and concrete barricades were erected at the car park entrance to try to deliver a terminal blow to the Matagarup Refugee Camp as the encampment is known.
Police and council workers arrived in large numbers with trucks and equipment. More than 15 people had stayed overnight at the camp.
As on previous raids, there was no regard for the fact that Matagarup is a recognised and registered heritage site where cultural activities - including camping - are permitted. The welcome extended by the Matagarup community was trampled on by police and council.
People were woken from their sleep.
The rain was still gently falling as they began to seize tents, bedding, food and other equipment.
Nyoongar elders such as Bella Bropho maintained a calm disposition in the face of dispossession.
"This is our country," the people said.
The entire operation was guarded by dozens of police.
They issued at least two move-on notices directing Aboriginal people to leave their own land at the threat of arrest.
What justification was there for this? Ironically, the government had only the night before decided to "recognise" Aboriginal people in the WA constitution. That morning, they made clear what such "recognition" means!
Truckloads of valuable equipment was taken.
This was the site of where the women's camp had been. Food and personal possessions were taken with no regard.
After the bedding was seized from homeless people, the council began erecting concrete barricades at the carpark entrance to try to stop people returning to the island.
They were not successful.
Withstanding heavy rain, a number of people stayed overnight on the island that very night. The next morning, police came back to repeat the whole operation again!
Please share this meme about the raid to support this campaign.
[This photo essay originally appeared in Green Left Weekly online.]