While many of the protests across Australia were, for the most part, peaceful and free from violence and arrests, the same cannot be said in Sydney after police allegedly pepper sprayed crowds of protesters at Central Station.
After a largely peaceful day of protesting, the situation escalated for a small portion of the 10,000+ protesters after police forcibly herded demonstrators off the streets.
The ordeal unfolded inside Sydney’s Central Station in the hour between 6-7pm after a “very small fraction of protesters” were forcibly pushed into the station, with police allegedly blocking off all of the main exits, according to Pedestrian.tv’s Zac Crellin.
According to Zac, over 100 people were trapped outside the entrance, with 50-100 people actually being inside the station when police dispersed the pepper spray.
Cops just pepper sprayed non-violent protesters #blacklivesmatteraustralia pic.twitter.com/MpUo8ZlOpJ
— Zac Crellin (@zacrellin) June 6, 2020
Following what has been described as a “super rough arrest” inside the station, some members of the crowd were allegedly trying to leave, while others continued to peacefully protest inside the station, leading to reports of one person getting trampled.
“Some people wanted to leave, while others were holding their ground. Nevertheless, police then started pushing forcefully against protesters and some people started to fall. I believe one person got trampled,” Zac Crellin explained.
Despite reports of all main exits being blocked by authorities, police allegedly then proceeded to hit the small group of remaining non-violent protesters with pepper spray. However, it is unclear what/if anything provoked this use of force.
“Then all of a sudden one officer started spraying indiscriminately into the crowd. I didn’t see anything that could’ve provoked this. After this, people did first aid one one another and the police pulled back. Eventually, police yielded and let protesters out of the main exits.”
Other protesters have since taken to social media to share footage of the ordeal.
Aftermath of tear gas used in central station by @nswpolice, disgusting conduct from the pigs. #Sydneyprotest @ShoebridgeMLC @AdamBandt video from @byamhalsey https://t.co/gbrFRHJ3yT
— angel ⚔️ (@E4SIERTHANLYING) June 6, 2020
The rough arrest and use of pepper spray concludes what was otherwise a peaceful day of protesting across the nation, with thousands of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians joining forces to fight against racism and the all-too-familiar stories of black deaths in custody.
According to the SBS, at least 30,000 anti-racism activists took to the streets across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart, with no reports of arrests from any other city so far.