On September 12th, in 2000, a week before that spectacle known as the Olympics cast a spell on my home city, I was in
Melbourne and experiencing a kind of collective subjectivity that I had never felt before.
By this time, we had been blockading the Asia Pacific meeting of the World Economic Forum for over a day and a half, effectively
shutting down the operations of the conference: weaving our arms and legs together to block each of the nine or so entrances
that had been conveniently isolated by a 3-metre steel and concrete fence.
There was euphoria in the air, combined with a strong sense of fear, as the riot police had been engaging themselves in vicious
baton attacks, and threatening to run their dogs loose on us. There had been a standoff for several hours at the underpass
entrance to Crown casino, where hundreds of people were drumming on the overpass, creating a war rhythm that seemingly resonated
with the structure itself.
We were all more tired than yesterday, and more cynical at the media slanders that were directed at us, claiming that we were
'violent' and that we threw human fluids like blood at the cops, which seemed to only highlight the police's own butchery.
All of these claims angered me, because they obscured the huge 'truth-force' that I felt during this demonstration: Never
before and never since have I been to a protest that carried so much moral legitimacy.
And so here I was at the underpass entrance, and I started to get suspicious, because I knew from my extensive experience
in playing cops and robbers, and hide and seek as a kid, that standoffs like this don't happen for so many hours unless they
are acting as a decoy.
So I started to wander back to the entrance on Queensbridge st, where the buses had entered that morning after some brutal
trampling of a sitting blockade by riot police...There were not many people there, apart from a combi van (with a huge joint
mounted on the top) with people from the Nimbin 'Hemp Embassy' standing around and singing songs.
They reckoned we didn't need people at this entrance because the van was blocking the entrance... and there I saw some police
men sitting on the grass inside the compoundwith their shoes off... I thought that's strange, and then I got suspicious,
because there was a tense feeling in the air there. About twenty minutes later, a friend saw riot police gathering in the
underground carpark, that you could just see from outside the fence, and then we saw horses lining up behind the hedges and
around the corner.
So we knew that the buses were again going to leave by this entrance, so I walked up to the people speaking on the megaphones
on the other pickets, and told them to tell people to come to this entrance. By this time, it was getting late and many people
were leaving for home. So those passing by I convinced to stay for another half hour.
We linked arms again in a standing blockade, about 200 people strong, and suddenly an army of almost a thousand riot police
in full black leather, with motorbike helmets and long (steel I think) batons burst out from the carpark inside the compound
like angry ants. For about five minutes, the two crowds were pushing against eachother in a stalemate, until the police started
bashing people in the front row with their huge batons DIRECTLY ON THEIR HEADS.
Behind us, the horses had closed in and we were trapped. More and more police were climbing over the crowd, eventually splitting
it in two, whilst hitting people in the head and shouting "MOVE" which was ridiculous because we couldn't move.
All I could think of was 'don't fall over -don't fall over' becuase to do so could mean to be utterly crushed.The crowd shifted
rapidy, people being beaten in the head all around me, and falling down among the horses. I was in a total daze, holdin up
a plastic flower to the police saying 'DON't HIT ME DON'T HiT ME!' I finally got away, and ran confusedly with this girl who
was trying to find the first aid tent. Her hair was matted with blood. We got there via some back streets, and sat in the
chai tent staring into space and watching the flashing lights of the ambulances as if it was all a movie.
It didn't seem like Australia. It seemed like another world. I was so far away from pre-Olympics Sydney. And I didn't even
feel like I was enough of a rebel to be at all dangerous to the state so as to necessitate them bashing us up. I had only
just finished school, where I was one of the 'conscientious people'. Here I was, with my life endangered, because I was a
'threat to public order'- or something like that.
So I sat there crying my eyes out. I was convinced that I had witnessed people being killed before my eyes, and I kept saying
'It will all be my fault because I asked them to stay'. Cath and Chrystal gave me some tea, and talked comfortingly to me...and
after a while I was gonna go back to the campsite, but realised I had lost my wallet, so Chrystal lent me twenty bucks, which
wasn't enough to get to North Coburg.
I told the taxi driver all about what happened. When the $20 ran out he let me out- but I didn't know where I was, and I stumbled
along crying my eyes out. But he felt sorry for me and picked me up again and drove me the rest of the way for free.
I didn't go to any events the next day- I was too shell shocked. Apparently the victory march through the city was amazing,
with people in office blocks leaning out of building windows to cheer everyone on, and the massive puppets featuring.
dr wooo's account
A much more detailed account of the violence than I could give
The best film of these amazing protests is called "The UnAustralian Way", filmed by UTS students Shannon and Julian from
"It's the Vibe Productions".
The fascinating graffiti that decorated Crown Casino walls and the barricades during this protest is documented here on this website.
Analysis of repression
An article by Susan George in Le Monde Diplomatique about State Repression and corporate surveillance of the Global Justice movement.