The Guardian October 4, 2000


S11 reflections

by Minh Nguyen

The day after our affinity group was charged and batoned in an unexpected 
and unprovoked act by at least 10 mounted police, I joined one of the major 
barricades at Whiteman and Queensbridge as other barricades had been lost. 
This was the same barricade where previously numerous protestors were 
senselessly bashed by police to clear a path for World Economic Forum (WEF) 
delegates wanting to go out for dinner at the Grand Hyatt.

Of course, this is how the corporate brotherhood operates. Just as Richard 
Court was arrogant enough to have attempted to enter via the main entrance 
of the casino to become a catalyst for police violence, these delegates 
were more concerned with punishing and making examples of the protestors by 
entering at the most populated time and place, or a time and place that was 
most convenient to them.

We were poorly resourced and some were not prepared for the rain or near 
galeforce wind. We were chanting and singing and participating in a 
suicide-like human barricade, almost in apprehension of another police 
attack.

Vulnerable, hungry and cold, our legs and backs ached; our fingers numbed. 
The woman next to me trembled as the police played games of intimidation 
and tested their crowd-controlling techniques.

It was no picnic, I must say, but the people kept their cool, their sense 
of humour, and a hatred for the oppressive capitalist order.

What a contrast though, when one looks over the picketline. The police 
officers clothed in leather and windjackets passed around a packet of 
barley sugar.

They're on rotation, never missing their morning tea or lunch breaks. 
Behind them, and sheltered behind the towering glass building of the 
casino, are the delegates, draped in white bath robes with wine glasses in 
their hands, watching the activities down below.

A few days away from the opening of the Olympics, I can almost imagine 
these animals cheering as their police brutalised scores of protestors 
before them.

Apart from the deliberate police hit-and-run that left a woman 
hospitalised, the day ended without much incident. The police claimed 
victory over "mob violence" and the politicians and Packer-Murdoch media 
were full of praise for their "brave police force".

What an absolute insult it was to hear that. What nonsense and what lies! 
The ruling class and its apologists seem almost disappointed by the fact 
that S11-13 protestors remained peaceful. Their rumours and prophesies of 
violence weren't fulfilled, so they exaggerated, lied and let loose the 
police to save face!

The three days belonged to the people absolutely. We know we won because 
the casino and surrounding businesses are saying "no" to another WEF; we 
won because the public talked about what we talked about and cared little 
for what was said inside the casino; we won because capitalism is once 
again being challenged; and we won because we achieved our aim of being 
non-violent in the face of police provocation and brutality.

I was inspired and empowered by the unity, creativity and energy of 
participants. I'm proud to have participated in this growing movement of 
dissent. I'm proud to have been labelled "un-Australian" for doing so. S11-
13 shows that the tide is now turning!

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