RECLAIM RALLIES Melbourne—Letter to Authorities.

Reclaim Rally goers were prevented from joining their rally by the counter rally.

Reclaim Rally goers were prevented from joining their rally by the counter rally.

(LETTER: to The Victorian Premier, Acting Police Commissioner, and Australian Attorney General.)

RE: Reclaim Rally 4th April 2014 Melbourne, Federation Square—Right to Peaceful Assembly

Last Saturday on the 4th of April 2014 thousands of Victorians were denied their Right to Peaceful Assembly at a reclaim rally scheduled to commence at 1.00pm. Our admittance to the rally was blocked from 11.15am. The Reclaim rally was later closed down at the request of Police.

Australia is a party to seven core international human rights treaties. The right to freedom of assembly and association is contained in articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)and article 8(1)(a) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). See also article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) , article 15 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and article 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). (1)

Any legislation that is passed in Australia needs to conform with these treaties. According to the Attorney General it must NOT:

  • limit or regulates the ability of a person or group of persons to peacefully protest…
  • treat people differently on the basis of their membership of a group or association.
  • (2)

On 4th April at Federation Square over 1000 people wanting to attend their Reclaim Rally were denied the right to peaceful protest, because a counter rally had linked arms across both entrances to their rally and prevented their Right of Peaceful Assembly.

Flinders Street: This scenario made it impossible for Reclaim Rally goers to join their rally at the top of these stairs.

Flinders Street: This scenario made it impossible for Reclaim Rally goers to join their rally at the top of these stairs.

Effectively what happened the Police were forced to uphold the rights of an earlier group of counter rally protestors who deliberately sought to stop our access to our pre-planned rally. This action by the counter rally invalidated the rights of every other Victorian present, to their Right to Peaceful Assembly at the Reclaim Rally at the top of the stairs in Federation Square.

When I asked why the Police why they would not allow us past the Police lines. They told me they couldn’t “guarantee our safety” getting past these counter rally lines to join our rally.

The counter rally was considered by the police as dangerous. We also understand that police horses were stabbed, officers were hurt and horse dung was hurled at police by the counter rally.

This bullying behaviour cannot be construed as peaceful. A 71 year old woman standing by the counter rally, waiting to get access to the Reclaim Rally had her flag ripped out of her hand by a person attached to the counter rally causing this shocking bruising.

Reclaim Australia Rally- Melbourne FB page—(Confirmed legitimate photo)

Reclaim Australia Rally- Melbourne FB page—(Confirmed legitimate photo)

I now understand that the Victorian Government passed the bill to restrict Police’s “move on” ability just in time for the Reclaim Rally Event.

The Victorian Attorney General Hon M Pakula in his Statement of Compatibility on the matter said

“The bill winds back the expansion of the grounds on which police and protective services officers (PSOs) may give move-on directions under section 6 of the Summary Offences Act 1966. Under the changes, the circumstances in which police officers and PSOs may direct a person to move on from a public place will be limited to where they suspect on reasonable grounds that:
-the person is breaching, or likely to breach, the peace;
-the person is endangering, or likely to endanger, the safety of any other person; or
-the behaviour of the person is likely to cause injury to a person or damage to property or is otherwise a risk to public safety.” (3)

I now believe these powers would have enabled the police to grant me and the hundreds of other Victorians wanting access to attend our rally and would have ensured our rights to assemble as well.

The Victorian Attorney General made the final comment in his Statement of Compatibility that:

“The amendments made by the bill provide a more appropriate balance between the use of move-on powers to maintain public order and safety, and the protection of the rights and freedoms of all Victorians recognised under the charter.” (4)

On the 4th April 2015 THESE AMENDMENTS FAILED their ability to protect our freedoms.

These amendments only upheld the rights of the earlier protestors. They subsequently denied all other Victorian’s their Right to Peaceful Assembly on the day.

These amendments in effect have given the power of assembly ONLY to the first group on the scene.

Those counter protestors, as we saw on Saturday, were able lock arms and prevent all other Victorians wanting to assemble at their Reclaim Rally.

We want this legislation amended so that the right to assemble is accorded to ALL Victorian not just the first people on the scene.

Further these rights are only given to peaceful assembly. The counter rallies were not peaceful, especially when 71 year old women are physically assaulted just for carrying a flag.

You need to consider that your amendments by limiting Police powers Under section 458 of the Crimes Act 1958 is putting the public at risk. Members of the public should not have to be hurt, and property damaged in order for the Police to be sanctioned to take action against the counter protestors. (5)

What you have created through this amended legislation is monumental public safety issues let alone exposure for the Victorian Government to be sued for not giving Police adequate powers to protect the Victorian public from being assaulted at rallies by counter rally attendees.

I along with hundreds of others was not given access or peaceful passage to our rally. We were all denied our right to Peaceful Assembly. I believe the limitation of the police powers contained in the Summary Offences Amendment (Move-on Laws) Bill 2015 has proved itself counter to our Commonwealth Right to Free Assembly and needs immediate amending.

I am not a lawyer, I am just a Victorian who wanted to attend my first rally peacefully and support my fellow Victorians doing the same. That right was denied to me by a group of agitators who had purposely set out to limit my ability to do this, enabled by this recent piece of Victorian legislation.

Current Victorian laws and policing denied my rights as an Australian citizen from being upheld. You failed the Commonwealth Right to Peaceful Assembly that the Attorney General stated was mine.

Please advise me how you are going to ensure that my right as a Victorian to Peaceful Assembly is going to be assured in the future, both through Police action and through legislation.

Yours faithfully

Concerned Citizen of Victoria

Notes (1) and (2) Attorney General on Right of Peaceful Assembly.

Notes (3) and (4) Statement of Capability by Victorian Attorney General.

Notes (5) Second Reading speech


    • Hugh Pearson on April 11, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    P.S. Let me illustrate the ‘Power of ONE’…in relation to strategic use of the Media and contacts. You might remember a sudden explosion of outrage and Politicians scrambling for relevance in an effort to contain the damage from an Anti Australian Racist video on youtube. This connects with the story! (NSW)

    Guess what.. “I” triggered the reaction! Now I’ll tell you how. I saw the vid..was outraged and sent a link to the following people:
    -Prime Minister
    -Opposition leader
    -State Premier
    -State Opposition leader
    -Police Commissioner
    The NEXT morning it broke.

    • Hugh Pearson on April 11, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Folks… in all honesty, and from experience, hoping that the Police will adhere to the law and enforce it in our interests is like dropping a coin in a wishing well and hoping for it to come true. Remember, they are ruled by a number of factors and the Law comes way down the list after..
    i) “Senior Police promotional and Career prospects.
    ii) Pleasing the Police Minister. (for the reason above)

    Public Order is something defined more by the momentum of a group on the streets than the law. As one policeman said to me once.. “We don’t want to be a punching bag between ‘you’ and a crowd of angry people”. So, given the pragmatic nature of policing, we have no alternative but to anticipate how they will act (according to the above) and take strategic measures to ensure the success of our rallies aside from any “protection” (hindrance) from police.

    THEREFORE.. I believe it is essential to first ‘build’ our movement in ways that cannot be labeled “white” or “xenophobic” or “violent” etc etc.. This will happen when we target high profile entities such as the Herald Sun and the Age, and perhaps 3AW if it is needed, and even the Islamic Council of Vic…. all with smaller “flash” type demos’ that have BIG banners and CLEAR posters about such things as.. “Reclaim Responsible Journalism” “RECLAIM TRUTH and BALANCE” etc.. these should be accompanied by LOUD PA systems (I have one) and this would take the feral left by surprise and leave them wandering and wondering in a dazed confusion.
    When the movement is bigger, we can then consolidate and communicate via BIG rallies and OVERWHELMING numbers.
    It is also essential that we used well prepared and rehearsed speeches that are finely honed for maximum impact and persuasion and that they are video’d and placed on youtube and other social media.

    What is a persuasive high impact speech?
    EXAMPLE 1 “This…is not a contest among persons, but even the humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, can withstand all that the hosts of error being against him” (William Jennings Bryan, to US senate on the Gold Standard) After this pasionately delivered speech, he was nominated for president!

    EXAMPLE 2 “Is life so dear, and peace so sweet, that we would purchase them at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God!… I know not how others might feel, but as for me…give me Liberty…or give me death!” (Patrick Henry, to Virginia house of Parliament 1775) This was the speech which galvanized the American Militia’s to rid themselves of British oppression!

    We can do as good…if not better!

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