A peaceful pro-Palestine protester who was holding a baby in her arms was grabbed by NSW Police officers during a speech by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Albanese was presenting the grand opening of a “dementia friendly” public park in Ashfield, Sydney to a small crowd on Monday evening when the incident occured.
The woman was clutching a baby in one hand and holding up a sign that said “Shame Albo” with the other. On the sign was a picture of a watermelon — a symbol that has long been associated with Palestinian resistance, because it shares the colours of the Palestinian flag which Israel banned in occupied Gaza and the Westbank in 1967.
According to Greens Councillor Dylan Griffiths, the woman was peacefully standing and holding the sign when he claims police “tried to forcibly remove her” from the crowd.
Footage shared to X, formerly known as Twitter, shows the moment police surrounded the woman and put a hand on her before she collapsed to the ground and screamed — while still clutching her baby.
During the scuffle, Albanese appeared to continue his speech as if nothing was happening.
Griffiths slammed the incident as “shameful”.
“A shameful response, real failure for politicians in attendance to be an ethical bystander,” Griffiths wrote on X.
“I’m really disappointed that no other councillor, MPs in attendance, or the prime minister called it out.
“Albo had the mic, he should have said something. It doesn’t matter if you are being protested, it’s a sign.”
Griffiths said he intervened and told the police to “go away”, which he said they did. That’s at least a plus — other peaceful pro-Palestine protesters have not been so lucky, with some describing police responses to their protests as “heavy handed”.
Twitter users shared their shock at the disturbing events.
“This is outrageous. She was only holding up a sign, not creating a disturbance,” one person wrote.
Another called the incident “utterly depraved”, with one user labelling it “pure fascism”.
NSW Police acknowledged in a statement to PEDESTRIAN.TV that its officers attended the event.
“About 5.30pm (Monday 4 December 2023), officers from the South West Metropolitan Region attended the public opening of a reserve in Holden Street, Ashfield,” the statement read.
“Officers attempted to speak with a woman observed disrupting the event.
“She was spoken to and no further action will be taken.”
NSW law gives police powers to issue “move on” orders to a person if they are “engaging in behaviour that is considered harassment or intimidation to another person (or people)”, per Sydney Criminal Lawyers.
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets every week in Sydney for almost two months in an attempt to urge Anthony Albanese to call for a permanent ceasefire in Israel’s bombing campaign against Gaza. Albanese has so far refrained, and maintained that Israel has a right to defend itself.
At the time of writing, at least 15,899 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7, according to Al Jazeerah. In Israel, the official death toll stands at 1,200. (Note: it has not been possible for journalists to independently verify death toll figures from either Israeli or Palestinian authorities.)