Lidia Thorpe Won’t Be Charged For Protesting Police Violence At Sydney Mardi Gras & Fkn Good

Two NSW Police officers standing over Lidia Thorpe as she lays in front of a police float at Sydney Mardi Gras 2023

Senator Lidia Thorpe won’t be charged for temporarily blocking a float in protest of police brutality at the Sydney Mardi Gras parade on Saturday night.

Nothing but respect for our ACAB queen.

Footage shared to social media shows Thorpe laying down in front of the float on Oxford Street before being approached by two cops. According to AAP, the float was that of the Australian Federal Police, but other publications including WAToday and SBS reported they understood the float was operated by Twenty10.

Certified boot-lickers can be heard in the background booing Thorpe and yelling for her to be taken away.

The noted icon, who was marching with the No Pride in Genocide float which was organised by Pride in Protest, got to her feet and could be seen talking with Mardi Gras crew and the police.

“About 9pm last night a woman lay in front of a float on Oxford Street, momentarily preventing the progress of the parade,” NSW Police told AAP on Sunday.

“She was later removed from the parade at the request of organisers for breaching the terms of her participation.”

NSW Police confirmed to the Guardian that Senator Thorpe wasn’t arrested and won’t be charged.

Per the ABC, a Sydney Mardi Gras spokesperson said interrupting the parade could have “significant” safety implications.

“While we respect the individual’s right to protest, interrupting the parade in this way has significant implications for the safety of our participants and audience,” the spokesperson said.

Obviously safety is important but frankly, it’s disappointing that the Sydney Mardi Gras organisers asked for Senator Thorpe to be removed.

The point of a protest is that it’s disruptive. Thorpe wasn’t being violent or aggressive — all she was doing was protesting police violence and mistreatment against queer and other minoritised people, which she has every fucking right to.

A 2021 report released by the NSW Parliament’s Standing Committee on Social Issues following an inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes between 1970 and 2010 found that historically, NSW Police had failed in its responsibility to properly investigate these abhorrent crimes.

“This has undermined confidence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) communities in the NSW Police Force and the criminal justice system more broadly,” it said.

Mark Higginbotham, who worked as a cop in Sydney in the 1980s, told the Sydney Morning Herald last year about the cruel violence against gay men that he witnessed on the job.

He said assaults were perpetrated by members of the public and police officers who targeted “men gathering for public sex”.

When Higginbotham arrested someone for bashing a gay man and brought him back to Darlinghurst police station, the managing sergeant on shift screamed “we don’t arrest people for poofter bashing”.

Even Sydney Mardi Gras’s history is rooted in police violence.

In 1978, Sydney held its first ever Mardi Gras march. What began as a peaceful, festive day descended into violence after cops confiscated the lead float because marchers deviated from the permissible route.

“The police blocked off all the entrances and they started picking us off,” marcher Kate Rowe told the BBC.

“You heard people screaming, police were grabbing people, you could see people throwing things, it was just a cacophony of sounds, and the energy just totally changed.

“I got felled. This really heavy dustbin lid was thrown into my back — which really hurt — and the police got me and I was thrown into a paddy wagon and taken to Darlinghurst Police Station.”

It’s also impossible to talk about police brutality without recognising the role colonialism has had in feeding it.

This country was built on the massacre of First Nations people — any violence against Blak people and persons of colour at the hands of an oppressive force proves the mark colonialism has on what we call Australia is only worsening.

There’s no place for cops at Pride — it’s as simple as that. Lidia Thorpe had every right to protest their involvement at Mardi Gras.

If you’d like to talk about the issues raised in this story, you can call the QLife LGBTI peer support hotline on 1800 184 527 or chat online.

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