Monday, 12th November, 2012 – Calls for an independent inquiry in Occupy eviction gather momentum

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Calls for an independent inquiry in Occupy eviction gather momentum

Two of Victoria’s leading human rights and justice organisations today endorsed calls made by the Occupy Melbourne Legal Support Team for an independent inquiry into the Occupy Melbourne eviction. The calls came on the back of the Support Team winning the prestigious Tim McCoy Award on Friday night, an annual Victorian award recognising outstanding achievement in human rights and social justice.
Liberty Victoria and the Victorian Federation of Community Legal Centres today welcomed the release of the Occupy Policing report and backed its call for an independent inquiry into the eviction of Occupy Melbourne protesters from City Square on 21 October 2011.
The President of Liberty Victoria, Professor Spencer Zifcak, welcomed the release of the Occupy Melbourne Report. ‘This is a well researched and cogently argued report that raises serious questions regarding the dispersal of the Occupy Melbourne protest in 2011’, he said. ‘The Occupy Melbourne protest was shut down by Council authorities more quickly than any other similar protest in any other city in any western democratic nation. In itself that is a source of very considerable concern.’
‘More than that, however, the information and evidence collected in the report suggests that the rights of demonstrators to freedom of speech and assembly may have been violated. These rights are protected by the Victorian Charter of Rights and Responsibilities and they are set down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, an international human rights treaty to which Australia is a signatory. In other words, both Melbourne City Council and Victoria police may have acted illegally and in breach of Australia’s international human rights obligations. Because of this, Liberty Victoria favours the immediate creation of an independent inquiry to examine all the circumstances in which the protest was terminated’.
Federation of Community Legal Centres Executive Officer Hugh de Kretser said the report highlighted serious questions around the legality of decisions to break the protest up and provided strong evidence of unreasonable use of force by police. “This is an important report which underscores the need for an independent inquiry into the eviction. There are many examples where evidence of excessive police force, including capsicum spray, has been documented. More broadly, the report demonstrates the important role played by independent observers at protest events.”
A copy of the Report has been provided to the Office of Police Integrity, the Honorable Peter Ryan, Minister for Police, Melbourne City Council and the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. To date, none of these individuals or organizations have acknowledged receipt of or committed to investigating the contents and findings of the Report.

For media inquiries, call: Sara Dehm (0431 273 244) or Erin Buckley (0448 323 060), Report Coordinators and members of the Occupy Melbourne Legal Support Team


DAY 237

Free Childcare

Community contribution

I was asked awhile ago, what causes can OM get behind, that could find the broader community gravitating towards and maybe even more supportive of the goals that Occupy aspires to.

I thought about it and replied, I’m not sure the broader community really understand points about banks, foreign trade policies and corporations influence on the government, etc. However what they do understand is the amount of money in their pocket, so raising awareness, or campaigning about issues that are a drain on the money in their pocket, would seem a good approach. Two costs that came to mind, that I felt could be easily understood and possibly gain support from the broader community were public transport fees and childcare fees.

As was seen at the free public transport rally, there’s alternative methods of funding public transport that would be less of a drain on tax revenues, provide equitable access to all, as well as contribute to reducing carbon emissions. Which IMO are three important points and seeing them achieved would be a progressive and optimal outcome, for the broader community.

Free childcare would also be a progressive move, as it would reduce the financial challenges that families experience, as well as reduce the erosion of family life, which now (as a result of both parents working), have limited nurturing and bonding time with each other.

Child care fees have just increased again. The fees vary from state to state, but regardless of which state, the fees are high and a considerable drain on the average persons wages.

Laws state that the interests of children’s welfare is above all and yet these exorbitant fees, contribute to families (who have both parents working to escape the poverty trap, or the rental trap etc), being limited in their capacity to better their financial standing and as noted, is known to have the effect of eroding families ability to nurture and bond with each other.

So how is the current model living up to the ideals of the law, that children’s welfare is above all?

Much like the suggestions made about alternative ways to fund the PT system, these alternatives could also fund free child care, which would go a long way to redressing the imbalances, that exist under the current model.

One alternative could be that businesses,(who profit by having a broader workforce,due to males and females now being represented in it) could pay the costs, or contribute to childcare costs. Possibly even write the cost off as a tax expense, or receive financial incentives from the government with tax breaks.

Certain businesses that do have childcare services (at their place of employment) have noted improved productivity and a better work atmosphere, than businesses that don’t. In businesses that don’t have childcare, parents are having to juggle the stress of peak hour traffic etc to get to child care centres on time to pick children up, combined with the guilt (some parents experience) of leaving their children with others to raise, all so they can make a living and provide for themselves and their children..

Who benefits from this? Well again its the usual suspects, being businesses who have increased productivity and profit and the government, who have increased tax revenues from these companies, as well as the increased tax revenues they acquire from personal tax.

Latch key kids/X-box Kids (another related scenario) essentially children having their working parents replaced by mechanisms such as televisions (the weapon of mass destruction) and are being saturated by brand marketing and conditioned to consumerism.
All of which is finding them further detached from the nurturing of the family unit and becoming victims of the way society and business has developed and contributing to the way the family unit and on from there, the community fabric is being eroded.

What can be done about this? I hear many state that a reason they stand up against the way the current system operates, is that they want their kids to inherit something better and not have to experience the challenges that the regressive system currently poses.
I agree and believe that there are many concerns, ranging from freedom of individuals, through to environmental concerns, yet although this is the case, an immediate concern that can have not only awareness raised about it, but can actually see progressive changes in the present as opposed to in 100 years time, is child care fees..

So what can be done in the here and now?

Form groups, raise awareness in the broader community and campaign to members of parliament. Discuss this at the work place and enter negotiations about it with your employers. Strike, Sit in.. I’m sure others could contribute many ideas about ways to tackle this issue, the alternative is to do nothing and let the problem persist.. Food for thought.

Joel Kershaw

Note: Joel’s previous piece on public transport can be found here in the digest issue of Day 231.

Picture of the Day

Source: Facebook

This amazing banner was made at a previous Occupy Fridays and displayed at Federation Square during the protest against KONY2012′s “cover the night” action, which led to one of our photographers being detained! It is getting a lot of shares around the world – read it and if you love it like we do, share it to make it viral before the world’s population reaches 8 billion.

View the full album, contributed by Chloë here.

Occupy Sydney – Best Of Picture Album

Source: Facebook

This is an exceptional album – see Occupy Sydney at their best – you’ll even see several of our own OM members there whilst they were visiting in solidarity – Link.

#Occupied: Reports From the Front Lines

Source: Occupy.com

This week in Occupy, the Cruz home at 4044 Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis became a national flashpoint for the Movement, overthrown Egyptian former dictator Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison, Canadian solidarity had everyone wearing red, the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall sparked a frenzy among politicians and activists alike, and an Occupy Yale activist left us far too soon…. read more here.


DAY 234

The internet is truly powering our revolution and online video are arguably the most effective method for spreading information. And so, today’s digest is dedicated to some excellent videos – some old, some new.

Owned & Operated

Source: Youtube

Owned & Operated is a full length feature created entirely using content that already exists on the internet. It attempts to draw together a bigger picture: a free humanity. Features sections on Occupy, Anonymous, Zeitgeist/Venus Project and Open Source Ecology. It also has some excellent music!

Human Sound System – Anonymous

Source: Youtube

Listen to this excellent tune from Belgian Jazz/Funk outfit Human Sound System and you’ll be singing “We are Anonymous! We are legion! We don’t forget! We are Anonymous! We are legion! Expect Us!” in no time. We already consider this an anthem and it’s surely only a matter of time before this goes viral.

Chris Hedges livestream from OWS

Source: Youtube

Chris Hedges is a former journalist and war correspondent who completely tells it like it is, in a livestream very early on during Occupy Wall Street. If you want the truth, told the way it should be told, check this out.

Occupy – Still Free (Take A Chance On Occupy)

Source: Youtube

This music video appeared during the premiere of Occupy.com and is the perfect video to get the Occupy blood pumping. Very inspirational.

Occupy Wall Street: The Revolution is Love

Source: Youtube

From velcrowripper and Ian MacKenzie featuring Charles Eisenstein, who really hit home the idea of the revolution being one of love and peace. Also, check out the follow up video, Sacred Economics.

Occupy Bat Signal

Source: Youtube

One of the most famous actions to come out of the Occupy movement, with a giant 99% “bat signal” projected onto a building during a march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

No Occupy Melbourne videos?

Yep. Because we’re developing an Occupy Melbourne video timeline on our Wiki. Check it out and if you have the means, help contribute to it!

Links

Occupy Melbourne New Website (under construction) - Contains links

Occupy Melbourne on Facebook

Occupy Melbourne on Twitter

Occupy Melbourne on Wikia - Information/Archive

Calendar of Events (via Indymedia) - Comprehensive overview of activist events, both Occupy & external


DAY 231

Public transport rally- scrap MYKI & make public transport free

Source: Community contribution – Joel K

@ 121 Exhibition St, outside the transport ministers offices.

Regardless of the inclement weather there was a great turn out for the rally and the warm glow of solidarity found it a comfortable atmosphere. Of course private security officers and Vicpol were present, but the chilly environment they found themselves in seemed to keep them fixed in place and in some sort of hibernating docile state. Various speakers from political movements, unions and international students, addressed those present.

The points raised by the speakers noted that the current way the public transport system is being run, is both failed, as it’s a poor use of tax revenues, (subsidising private corporations to provide this service.. essentially public funds going into the private purse) as well as that it discriminates against the ‘have nots’, or those on low wages.

Considering the amount of public funds paid to subsidise private corporations to run this public service, if instead these funds were utilised to provide a free service, there would be less public funds used in providing a free service, than currently are to subsidise the PT system and that free PT would be a progressive outcome as it provides equitable access to public transport for all. The savings of tax revenues made from providing free PT could contribute to other services being provided for free for example, free child care.

Other points made is that free public transport would have a beneficial impact on the environment and if the government are serious about reducing carbon emissions, the shift from private transport to free public transport, would help meet these carbon emission reduction goals.

Ideas for alternative source of funding for the public transport system that could see it become free and equitable ranged from:

One proposed (by the union speaker) was to have business pay for PT, as it was their interest that were met, due to Public transport getting the employees to and from work.

Another was that we currently pay a Medicare Levi, so that all can have equitable access to health care,(no matter how rich, or poor a person is.) Similarly a PT tax Levi could again ensure that all have equitable access to public transport.

At the moment those who struggle financially, are fare evading at risk of significant fines,(which further exacerbates their financial hardship and further discriminate against them as a result of making it even less achievable for them, being able to pay for the service) or being brutalised by paid thugs.. It’s regressive and doesn’t need to be the case..

Background: Jeff Kennett, (the premier of Victoria at the time, who made the decision, to sell the public transport system) failed his duty to the public and failed to manage the tax revenues. Leading to the public transport system,(which was paid for by generations of tax payers revenues.) being sold and privatised.

Aside from selling off the PT system, he sold many hospitals and schools,(oddly enough his buddy Bailieu,(the current premier) who owns Baillieu real estate, won the contract to sell 300 of those schools.

Kennet also introduced and was behind changes to laws, that allowed pokies and casinos to set up in Victoria. What benefit did selling these public assets, or changing laws that allowed casinos to set up, provide the public?? Well none, if anything it has made the publics life harder and less affordable and law changes that allowed casinos have contributed to the erosion of the social fabric. This is a fairly typical example of those that set themselves up as ‘above’ the people, who serve their ‘own’ interests and ‘not’ the ‘interests’ of the ‘public.’ This is unacceptable and highlights the reasons behind why the public are sick and tired of being treated with such contempt and this manifests in groups such as OM and Fightback forming.

Although not ideal, (as there is a moral cost to the alternative) tax revenues raised,from Casinos and pokies could easily fund a public transport system that provided a free service, which would negate a need for a PT tax Levi, or business to pay, or the current practise (of using tax paid subsidies, being given to private corporations, to operate the PT system) of tax paid subsidies being used to fund the PT system. Ultimately the government under the leadership of Kennet failed the citizen and when there are alternative and viable solutions to this, why should the public have to suffer any longer?

It’s time the Baillieu government addressed this and acted on the alternative options that would see a progressive outcome, that created equitable access to a public service. If the ‘fail you’ government aren’t prepared to act on this, then the opposition parties should be championing this idea and running an election campaign that guarantees,(not a baby kissing politicians promise) these outcomes being achieved.

Joel Kershaw.

Rally In Support Of Julian Assange

Source: Occupy Melbourne on Facebook

It was a highly successful afternoon at the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT – cnr Lonsdale & Spring Sts), with a mass occupation of the building’s lobby leading to delivery of a letter from Christine Assange to the Dept’s Victorian Director by #omel operatives. There was great community spirit exercising non-violent assembly, some excellent speeches throughout the day and plenty of support from passers-by.

Video link of action

Links

Occupy Melbourne New Website (under construction)

Occupy Melbourne on Facebook

Occupy Melbourne on Twitter

Occupy Melbourne on Wikia


Day 229 (Updated)

OM Community responds to Julian Assange extradiction

Source: News, Facebook, Indymedia

The OM Community have been very active in sharing links and sharing their opinions on the extradiction of Julian Assange to Sweden.

There is an event tomorrow night in support of this.

UPDATED: Rap News 13: A News Hope

Source: Youtube

Rap news has done it again. May these thoughts be with you!

OM Facebook Likes on the rise

Source: Occupy Melbourne Facebook Page (Official)

Whilst this is not a record for the most amount of likes, it certainly is a positive sign that interest again is on the increase on the 99% rising up and rebuilding a fair, just and democratic world.

Occupy Melbourne, 2011

Source: Submitted by Occupy Melbourne supporter, Tate S.

“This is a letter I found sitting on the ground at the Treasury Gardens yesterday.

I opened it up and it was to Occupy Melbourne written on the day after the Eviction, october 22nd.

This letter magically happened to be written by Rex Pirie (Rex was a teacher at my High School in Wangaratta, he became the vice principal after I finished – I found it very synchronistic that I happened to pick it up in a park I resided at for a few weeks) :) and I want to share it with the 99%.”

We made these people. We gave birth to these kids. We raised them. We taught them to walk, to speak, to think, to debate, to challenge. We helped teach them to appreciate their good fortune to be born into a democracy and a free and tolerant society; we helped give them the voice to challenge us to make us all stronger and better. Yes, I’m proud that we did that.

I went to the City Square on Saturday 15th October and watched their demonstration form. I went there on Thursday 20th to get to know who they were, what their story was; why they were there; what they wanted; how they were going about it.

I walked in, a stranger in a suit; I was welcomed, offered food and water. People spoke to me, I talked to them, and they explained to me what they were doing and why.

I realised that they were all kids – I call them kids because as a parent, and nearly 50 years old, they are kids to me. My kids. Your kids. Our kids. I saw a community of young adults. That’s when I chose to offer to help. I have a car, time, resources. I drove around town with some of them that night collecting donations of furniture.

They asked me about ways to set up delegations of the mandate of the General Assembly for the authority and accountability of a subcommittee to manage the finances of the group. They had received about $1,000 in donations and wanted to make sure they had an equitable, democratic and accountable system in place to use it.

They told me about how they wanted to establish good liaisons with the police. They told me about how every member of the community was delegated to be a police and public liaison person. They staunchly had no leader. They decided everything after discussion at frequent and regular General Assemblies.

At the core of every conversation I heard a clear and simple set of moral principles; equality, equity, justice, compassion and generosity. They expressed these values with passion, humour, politeness and showed more trust than fear, more humour than anger, more hope than cynicism.

I am proud I helped and saw how they operated. I was proud to see a peaceful and democratic community come together in the very heart of our city.

I arrived on Friday 21st morning to see our kids herded into a small square fenced in with 2 metre high barricades. Lined up in front of them were about 50 riot police equipped with helmets, shields and batons. Surrounding all of this were hundreds of police.

These are our kids: the product of all our love and efforts standing in the rain like cattle while their camp was being destroyed, smashed and thrown into garbage trucks. Our kids were surrounded by police in the middle of our city.

I spoke to members of the police cordon; one asked me if I was with the media. I was dressed in a suit carrying a bag – I could have passed for media. So I said I was and I was allowed through to stand with the other media. The police cordon was keeping all people away – allowing no one in. I asked a police what they were going to do. When? Why? Where to? How? None of them knew or would tell me. They were ‘just waiting for orders’.

Then the police moved in and started picking out ‘leaders’ and dragging them out of the group. They forced the community out onto Swanston St. If the strategy on the part of the police was to disperse the community they significantly underestimated the community’s cohesiveness. The police clearly did not understand what they were dealing with.

Young people had been arrested, kids bloodied, hurt. The community reformed in the intersection of Collins and Swanston and sat down. They sang and chanted and drew themselves back together. They protected each other, supported and grew stronger in the face of violence. They were exposed in the middle of the street, surrounded by police, police cars, vans, mounted police and police with dogs.

I was part of a crowd of hundreds who stayed to serve as witness and document this. Citizens who each contribute in our little ways to the society that serves and protects us. Our city, our police and our kids.

I was witness to brutality, violence, stupidity and ignorance. Our society failed me. Our society failed our kids. I stood witness to the integrity of a democratic movement being trampled, attacked and charged by mounted police in my city.

The police charged, led by 6 mounted officers, and forced the community up Swanston St. The police cordon forced the witnesses along the footpath, pushing, punching, and violently threatening us. People like me, witnesses like me.

This community of young people are our kids. They are our young people. They are the future. We should never have to stand as witnesses to them being treated brutally, violently in our city. They should not have been treated this way.

My face twisted, tears welled up, a lump formed in my throat and stomach and made me sick as I saw people we raised; expressing the ideals we taught them in the city we gave them, be brutally treated. No one should ever see a society turn on its own kids this way.

Our politicians showed no understanding, no compassion, and no imagination. Whoever directed the police showed no strategy, they underestimated the community and caused the disruption to the city.

I am not proud of our leaders and the police.

Our young people showed strength, patience, bravery, compassion, integrity and never lost sight of the cause. Their chants and songs continued to show us where the real strength of democracy lies.

Their peaceful actions, their passive resistance, remind us where true strength lies.

We who took the time to understand them, witnessed their community come together, saw it develop, and then stand up under the most violent treatment should be proud of our young people.

I am proud of them.

Image of the day

Source: unofficial Occupy Melbourne discussion page