Police ‘Punched’, ‘Kicked’ & Pepper-Sprayed Protesters Trying To Save Refugees From Deportation

Screenshots that show Victoria Police shoving and pepper-spraying protesters

Victoria Police brutalised protesters outside a detention centre in Melbourne on Tuesday and the footage is truly fucked.

In videos shared on Twitter, police can be seen attacking protesters not just during the protest, but also after it had dispersed.

In one video, police approached a group of activists who were tending to their injuries when an officer suddenly pepper-sprayed the crowd while shouting “fuck off!”. Refugee Solidarity Meanjin said protesters in question were receiving medical attention at the time.

Refugee rights activists were attempting to prevent Serco, the private security company the Australian government employs to manage its detention centres, from deporting refugees to Christmas Island when police confronted them.

FYI the facilities at Christmas Island are heinous to say the least. Refugee advocates told PEDESTRIAN.TV detainees refer to it as “detention to nowhere” and “hell on earth”. The Australian Human Rights commission ruled it should be shut down but it remains open and in use.

It’s believed Serco was attempting to deport 12 to 15 refugees to these facilities, most of whom protesters said are “501s”: people who have lived in Australia for most of their lives and had dual citizenship until their Aussie citizenship was cancelled. According to protesters, the refugees in transit were handcuffed.

About 15 protesters attempted to block a bus full of refugees from leaving the facility by standing between the vehicles and exit gate when they were met with brutality from Victoria Police. And no, before you ask, attempting to stop the harming of vulnerable people is not violence. Resistance to violence is not the same.

Videos shared online show police breaking through the line of protesters. An officer can be seen dragging a protester away from the crowd while one person cries “Stop! They took her shirt off!”

Refugee Solidarity Meanjin shared footage of cops pepper-spraying a small group of protesters while shoving others to the ground. Protester Dane de Leon told PEDESTRIAN.TV police were “throwing punches” and “kicking people already on the ground”.

Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe shared footage of herself condemning police violence.

“You are the criminals on this land,” she can be heard saying in the video.

“How dare you treat people like that. How dare you man-handle women like you did, like you pushed me out of the way. You are an absolute disgrace.”

Senator Thorpe then called out police for their role in upholding racist government policy.

“Have you even done your research, as officers of the law?,” she said.

“Because [the people in that building] are all innocent. You have Blakfullas locked up in there, which this government says aren’t Blak. And you’re backing who? The government who are liars?

“I know you’ve got to do your job, but why do you have to get violent?

You are the violent perpetrators here. Where’s your accountability?”

Speaking to PEDESTRIAN.TV, Thorpe said police should apologise for the altercation.

“The police should apologise for their abhorrent, violent, aggressive behaviour,” she said.

“I’ve been protesting for all of my life and I have never seen bully men come through the way they did, against people my kid’s age. There was no reason to blatantly pepper spray a young 20-year-old in the eyes.

“There are Blak people locked in detention, who the government are saying aren’t Blak, who have Blak families out here waiting for them. This is a violation of people’s human rights and Aboriginal peoples human rights have been violated since colonisation.

“Protest is what brings change. We’re talking about innocent young people who put their bodies on the line to fight for human rights. To see them being trampled by police for that was just devastating. Who were these officers of the law protecting?”

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