Occupy Melbourne

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Occupy Melbourne
Part of the Occupy movement
Occupy Melbourne 1st General Assembly.JPG
Occupy Melbourne's First General Assembly, City Square
Date 15 October 2011 – 2012
Location Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
37°48′51″S 144°58′34″E / 37.814158°S 144.976194°E / -37.814158; 144.976194
Causes Economic inequality, corporate influence over government, inter alia.
Methods Demonstration, occupation, protest, street protesters
Number
2,500 at peak (150 sleeping at peak)
Arrests and injuries
Injuries 54
Arrested 112

Occupy Melbourne was a social movement which took place as part of the global Occupy movement, in Melbourne, Australia. Issues of concern included economic inequality, social injustice, corruption in the financial sector, corporate greed and the influence of companies and lobbyists on government. Protests began on 15 October 2011 in City Square, from which protesters were forcibly evicted by the City of Melbourne with the assistance of Victoria Police on 21 October 2011.[1] From 2 November 2011, Occupy set up camp in Treasury Gardens before being moved on from that location in December.[2][3] A significantly diminished number of protesters set up camp at Father Bob's church at his invitation until his retirement in January 2012. The movement had largely dissipated by mid-2012, although it maintained an online presence.

History[edit]

On the morning of 21 October 2011, one week into the occupation, Melbourne City Council issued a notice to comply to the protest group. The notice requested that protesters remove themselves and their belongings from City Square by 9 am, under Council Bylaws regarding camping and "hanging or placing objects and things on or over the city square". Protesters resolved to stay stating on their website "we remain committed to peacefully occupying public space and intend to remain".[4] Police were asked to evict protesters from City Square by Melbourne city council and moved in shortly after 9 am, where 300 protesters remained in the square.[5][6]

Adam Bandt, the Member of the Australian Parliament for Melbourne, criticized the decision to remove protesters, saying "Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle have made a huge blunder by sending in the police, turning a week-long non-violent protest into a site of confrontation". Greens councilor Cathy Oke also criticized Melbourne City Council's actions stating "I certainly didn’t endorse this action or decision to bring in riot police and fences to remove peaceful protesters".[7] 95 people were arrested. Two police officers were also injured in the scuffles with one taken to hospital.[8] Occupy Melbourne's legal team issued a statement claiming they had "43 statements detailing shocking injuries inflicted by police on peaceful protestors. These include eye-gouging, punches to the face and back of the head and the deployment of pepper spray, including on children".[9][10]

Doyle defended his decision to evict the Occupy Melbourne protesters, stating that they were "a self-righteous, narcissistic, self-indulgent rabble tried to capture the city" and that a "hard core of serial and professional protesters" were involved.[11] Doyle later commented "We don't intend to allow people to set up tents anywhere in the city. We have adopted a zero-tolerance policy".[12] Occupy Melbourne called for a public inquiry into the eviction, which Doyle declined.[13] Protesters later took the matter to the Australian Federal Court suspecting a breach of federal law by Melbourne City Council.[14][15] The court ultimately found in the Council's favour in a 127-page judgement handed down on 1 October 2013, although the court did find that some of the infringement notices issued to protestors were legally invalid.[16]

During the occupation of Flagstaff Gardens protester numbers varied from 20-50 per night. On 6 December four protesters wore their tents as a practical joke on police that had arrived to evict them. The police forcibly removed the tent from one protester who resisted. The protesters then called for all "Occupy" protesters around the world to wear tents for human rights.[17][18]

Protest in social media[edit]

On 10 August 2012, Mayor Doyle deleted Facebook and Twitter accounts created for his election campaign amid Occupy Melbourne protesters using the pages to post demands for a public enquiry into alleged police violence at the City Square eviction.[19][20][21]

Controversy[edit]

The Occupy Melbourne website has posted numerous anti-Islam articles including one making undocumented claims that there are plans for the building of large mosques in several suburbs of Melbourne. The website describes these as "mega mosques", further claiming without any citation that these mosques are funded by foreign corporations as, per the website, there is a "notoriously high unemployment rate among Muslims" [22] The author of this article anonymously going by the name "occupymelbournenet" further describes these mosques as "facist fortresses" in a comment accompanying the article. An article in The Age refutes these claims, noting for example the low population of Muslims in the listed areas, and quotes Occupy Melbourne as describing councillors who voted in favour of the mosque's construction as "traitors" and the mosque itself as a "hub for crime" [23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Premier praises police over protest action". The Age. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Occupy Melbourne setting up camp at Treasury Gardens". SBS Australia. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Occupy Melbourne protesters told to pack up". ABC Online. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "CITY OF MELBOURNE MOVES TO EVICT OM FROM CITY SQUARE". 21/10/2011. Occupy Melbourne. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Protesters vow to stay as Doyle urges peaceful end". The Age. 19 October 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Hobday, Liz (21 October 2011). ABC news http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2011/s3344864.htm |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Crook, Andrew (21 October 2011). "Doyle breaks up the Occupy Melbourne party in the city square". crikey. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  8. ^ wright, anne (21 October 2011). "Occupy Melbourne protesters forcibly removed from City Square". Herald Sun. 
  9. ^ "Doyle accused of heavy-handedness in halting occupation". The Age. 19 October 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Occupy Melbourne welcome Lord Mayor’s concern: Inquiry needed". Monday 24 October 2011. Occupy Melbourne. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  11. ^ Selfish rabble got what it deserved, Herald Sun, 23 October 2011
  12. ^ Occupy Melbourne protesters know to police, Ken Lay says, Herald Sun
  13. ^ John, Faine (8 November 2011). "ecret Melbourne; Doyle vs Faine". abc 774. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  14. ^ MacDonald, Anna (21 March 2012). "Occupy Melbourne protesters take fight to court". ABC. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  15. ^ Waters, Jeff (22 March 2012). "Occupy Melbourne court challenge on right to protest". ABC News. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  16. ^ Deery, Shannon (1 October 2013). "Police officers involved in Occupy Melbourne protester arrests acted lawfully, court rules". Herald Sun. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  17. ^ Wayne Flower (7 December 2011). "Police conduct under investigation after ‘tent' dress torn from protester". Herald Sun. 
  18. ^ "Occupy Melbourne calls for worldwide tent protest". Herald Sun. 8 December 2011. 
  19. ^ Adrian Lowe (2012-08-10). "Doyle in Facebook about-face as Occupy moves in". Brisbane Times. 
  20. ^ "Lord Mayor Robert Doyle logs off Facebook". Herald Sun. 11 August 2012. 
  21. ^ The Twitter hashtag #AskDoyle mentioned by the Brisbane Times article can be searched at Topsy (social media) for all postings by date
  22. ^ "Mega Mosques Planned for Balwyn Toorak Caulfield". 
  23. ^ "Islamic body denies 'mega mosque' plan for Balwyn, Toorak, Caulfield". 

External links[edit]