Friday, November 15, 2002

La Kingston is angry. Angry! Dissent is crushed, barbarians are at the gate. Australia has been transported back to the bad days of random beatings, midnight arrests and disappearances. You know, the 70’s.
On Tuesday, the commander of security for the WTO meeting, one Dick Adams, suddenly announced a black ban on march permits from yesterday to Saturday, when the WTO meeting wound up. I spoke to one of Costa's people that day. Yes, he'd heard that Adams had just announced a ban, "but that would be an operational decision taken by the commander - we wouldn't get involved in that".
Yeah, yeah. The Adams action was nothing short of incendiary. It meant that the only way for dissenters to the WTO agenda to make their point to the public - a street march - had been outlawed. He trashed fundamental civil liberties in the state of NSW. Naturally, the WTO protest organisers decided to march anyway.

It would be Bad if the “only way” to make their point was denied to dissenters. Except it wasn’t. A rally permit was given for Sydney’s Hyde Park, and said rally did take place. Marching is not the only way of making your point, but it is the only way of getting yourself into proximity of some fat corporate targets, while safe in the anonymity of a large crowd. It is the only way of testing police limits by a moving blockage.
The protest march took on enormous symbolic importance, heightened emotions on both sides, and probably attracted the attendance of outlaws who mightn't have bothered to turn up if the cameras weren't guaranteed by Costa's actions to be there.

Now this is an interesting admission. Outlaws would not have bothered to turn up had the presence of cameras not been guaranteed by police policy. This is like equating fire with arson. Kingston seems to think that enforcement causes crime. I wonder if she has ever been burgled?

She gets confused:
Then the violence - by the police, not the protesters, from reports so far

contradicted by this:
Pity the police on the street who did nothing to encourage this disgusting spectacle

Civil liberties have never extended to the right to go where you want, when you choose, with who you like, to do what you please. The anti-WTO protests have a proven, unbroken record of violence and destruction. The rights of the businesses in the Sydney City to protection is greater that the right of others to one particular form of free speech, particularly when there are other reasonable avenues available.

Today the WTO delegates meet in a hotel, way to buggery outside of the CBD. There is a thumping big fence around the place, with clearly designated areas to march and demonstrate. There is minimal interference with free speech, and freedom of movement. There will be coverage of protests, probably far in excess of the numbers on hand, or their true legitimacy and coherence.

The truly strange thing is that there will be dozens of “legal observers” in the crowd. They will be providing legal advice to demonstrators on their rights, and the limits of police powers. It’s London to a brick that not one of them will see or report on any illegal act, by any demonstrator, but plenty by police. They are perfectly happy to insist that laws apply to police, but cannot recognise any limitations to their own freedoms. They rightly demand police govern and police themselves, and yet accept no obligations to police themselves, or to allow others to do it.

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