The Guardian October 25,2000


Youth protest: Howard ducks for cover

Two hundred people picketed the Liberal Party's "Millennium Forum" at 
the Westin Hotel in Martin Place, Sydney on October 20, protesting against 
Federal Government policies and the guest speaker John Howard.

The Forum was billed as providing "under 40s in the business community a 
unique opportunity to interact with key political and business leaders".

The Forum was sponsored by Macquarie Bank, Multiplex, AMP, British American 
Tobacco, and Kerry Packer through his Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd.

The demonstrators represented a wide range of political, cultural and 
student groups.

Banners and chants were raised bringing attention to Australia's refugee 
prison camps, the government's refusal to sign the UN convention on Women, 
and calling for the resignation of Peter Reith.

"John Howard should be out here on the street speaking to the under 40s who 
are being screwed over by his policies, not hiding in a luxury hotel 
speaking to under 40s who can afford to pay $500 for lunch", said one 
protestor.

Police responded to the peaceful protest with unnecessary heavy-handed 
tactics, and 12 mounted police on horses were also called in.

After the police brutally cleared demonstrators from the hotel entrance, 
they lined up along Pitt St, penning the protestors against the wall of the 
building.

At that time another protestor berated them: "Have you seen the news 
footage from S11? The whole world was watching and the police came off 
looking really bad ... The Australian public won't tolerate your violence 
against peaceful demonstrators any more."

Speaking to The Guardian later the protestor said, "When S11 was 
mentioned you could see them visibly flinch."

A Sydney university student showed The Guardian her injuries from 
the attack  large purple bruises all along the underside of her arms. "I 
was in the front row, and they singled me out because I'm small and I'm a 
woman."

Other protestors suffered cuts and bruises from being knocked to the 
ground, and one young man was taken to hospital with a suspected broken 
wrist.

After the picket ended, free meals were handed out in Martin Place to feed 
all who couldn't afford $500 to attend the "corporate luncheon".

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