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POLITICS AND THE PUBLIC SQUARE October 24, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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What then were the protests of Occupy Melbourne and Occupy Sydney directed at?

The protesters demonstrated the capacity of direct democracy through the general assembly processes to realize the promise of democracy to keep people voice. One would suppose that the purpose of public space is to provide for public amenity and nothing should be more important that civic participation and democratic conversation. And yet such a principle finds no expression in the fundamental law of the country or apparently in the Common Law, or if it does it does, it not take precedent in the minds of those who authorized the military style and violent eviction of the protesters and thief of their possessions in the guise of bureaucratic necessity.

The disturbing nature of the police action is shown by the attack on the Occupy Melbourne protesters:

According to Benjamin Preiss and Reid Sexton in The Sydney Morning Herald describing how the occupy protest turned violent:

Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana said police tried to use minimum force. He said protesters were given plenty of time to make their point and leave. ”We don’t really want to engage in this sort of activity but we’re not going to back down either,” he said.
But yesterday’s police action was criticised by protesters and the Greens MP Adam Bandt.
”It’s the worst response to peaceful people sitting down talking that I think we’ve ever seen,” Occupy Melbourne’s Nick Carson said. ”Why couldn’t [lord mayor] Robert Doyle have come down and talked to his constituents?”
Mr Bandt, the federal member for Melbourne, said calling on police to intervene rather than encouraging authorities to negotiate was a serious error.
”[Premier] Ted Baillieu and Robert Doyle have made a huge blunder by sending in the police, turning a week-long non-violent protest into a site of confrontation,” Mr Bandt said.

It is one thing to identify corporate influence on and sometimes over the political protest; it is another for the police to be seen to acting of behalf those in power against the implicit democratic rights and responsibilities of citizens.

Whereas in the United States there is no right to vote or to disallow the egregious gerrymandering that passes as redistricting, they at least have the First Amendment. Still there is cause for disquiet when police exercise powers that strictly they do not have as Naomi Wolf found out when she was arrested in NYC:

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