More eyewitness accounts confirm Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott were never under attack by Aboriginal protestors, but rather the victims of over-excited bodyguards and police. Managing editor David Donovan reports.
In the wake of the alleged “attack” by Aboriginal Tent Embassy protestors on the Prime Minister and Opposition leader in Canberra yesterday, the mainstream media have launched into full-on hyperbole mode, with convicted racist Andrew Bolt seizing the opportunity to call for an end to Indigenous reconciliation.
Having received its own accounts of what actually happened, Independent Australia published an eyewitness report by eminent academic John Passant, which clearly showed that the reaction of the politicians’ security detail was a massive overreaction to the threat from the crowd. This is confirmed by the following video, which shows the over-excited security detail “running the gauntlet” with Julia Gillard, though barely any protestors were in the vicinity.
Also confirming John Passant’s report for IA was another comprehensive eyewitness report by Wil Wallace from redSTACHE, where he says:
When I spoke to Sam she said that the protesters thought the riot police were arranging to form a sort of guard around the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader so that they could come out and talk to the crowd but, as the rest of the media has shown, the riot police’s real objective was to ‘escort’ the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader to their cars.
As more protesters made their way to the restaurant, the riot police charged out the doors, practically dragging Ms Gillard along, while the onlookers began to shout “where are you going?” and “why won’t you talk to us?” As the cars drove off, some people threw plastic water bottles and water at the cars.
At this point things began to get fairly nasty; one protester was knocked into the rose bushes and one gigantic cop started brandishing a can of tear gas or capsicum spray (reports differ on this point) in people’s faces and shoved Sam, another girl and a female photo-journalist in the head. When Sam told him to calm down he reportedly bared his teeth and grinned so widely his eyes nearly popped out of his head; to many on site it was fairly clear that the officer was barely under control.
Then the police began to link arms to form a line against the protesters and the protesters followed suit, ending up with a Mexican standoff. Some of the Indigenous Elders called for the protesters to return to the Tent Embassy but a female Elder began a non-violent sit-down protest in the road just down from the café and soon a line of Indigenous women, female Elders and non-Indigenous women had been formed across the road.
Questions need to be asked. Why did the PM and Opposition Leader not come out and speak to the protestors, who did not appear to be threatening. Why did the security detail react in such a provocative and heavy-handed way? And why have the mainstream media presented such a unfair and unbalanced version of events? One can only hope that the provocative comments by Tony Abbott, and then the subsequent reaction, were not part of an elaborate ploy to present Indigenous activists in a poor light for cynical political reasons.
- Contrary to some reports, the protest was not “an unprecedented outburst of violence”; in fact the only violence on the day was done by police and protective services
- The protesters were unaware that Julia Gillard was in the restaurant until some time after the action had started.
- The aim of the protest was merely to get Mr Abbott to speak to the crowd, not to assault him or anything like that.
- The massive over-reaction of protective services and the Australian Federal Police resulted in Ms Gillard losing her shoe, protesters being assaulted and pretty much everyone but the protesters looking like a bunch of dills.
(Read the rest of Wil Wallace's account at redSTACHE.)