Footage has emerged of police dragging away First Nations people, sovereign DjabWurrung land protectors, and other activists and protestors at the DjabWurrung Embassy west of Melbourne, at the same time as Premier Dan Andrews faced the press this morning, Tuesday 27th.
Last night, Victoria Police dismantled DjabWurrung Heritage Protection Embassy’s camp, sending 15 vehicles to the site. In doing so, contractors were then able to access the sacred ancestral Directions Tree, cut it down, and remove it from DjabWarrung Country.
At the end of his press conference, Andrews was asked directly about the felling of the sacred DjabWurrung tree.
Q: “Just the Directions Tree that was chopped down yesterday. Why was it chopped down? One of my colleagues was told by Major Projects Victoria that the tree hadn’t been chopped down when, in fact, it had been?”
Andrews: “I’m not certain what’s gone on there. I could try and get you some more information. But as I understand it, there’s been legal action. There had been agreements and settlements reached. There has been direct consultation with the 12 families who essentially comprised that traditional owner group. And we have done as we said we would do.
“This is a dangerous road. It needs to be built. We promised we would. We have been respectful. We’ve engaged. And we’ve been true to the spirit of the agreements that had been entered into.”
Q: “This is a very sacred site…”
Andrews: “Yes, it is. And that’s why we’ve engaged deeply with traditional owners. And that’s why we’ve come to an agreement that I know not everybody will be supportive of. They weren’t supportive of it, they haven’t for some time, but at some point, you’ve gotta try and come to an agreement and then be faithful to the terms of that.
“If we waited around to get 100% buy-in on this, if we waited around for an absolute consensus, then that deadly stretch of road would go unimproved, and we would see more people dying on that road. And I’m just not prepared to settle for that,” he said.
Victorian parliament member and first Aboriginal Senator for Victoria, Lidia Thorpe, today shared images of police forcibly removing and throwing down First Nations people for the purpose of cutting down more trees in the sacred area.
“Daniel Andrews, Sussan Ley, you have DjabWurrung blood on your hands,” she tweeted.
— Lidia Thorpe (@lidia__thorpe) October 26, 2020
Meanwhile, the Whistleblowers Activists and Communities Alliance (WACA) shared footage of at least a dozen Victorian police officers walking onto the DjabWurrung Heritage Protection Embassy Camp this morning.
Right now @DanielAndrewsMP is committing cultural genocide with Victorian police. Dragging sovereign Djab Wurrung women off their land. Chopping down ancient sacred trees. Shame! Get the word out and head to the embassy now! Live stream here. https://t.co/Olc06fZpKh pic.twitter.com/2ydYbvt6zf
— WACA (@akaWACA) October 26, 2020
Activists have also shared footage of a bypass standing where the 350-year-old DjabWurrung Directions tree once stood, which held tremendous significance to DjabWurrung women.
According to those on the ground, all protestors today were immediately removed, except for those who had chained themselves to cars, barrels and trees.
The scene on Djab Wurrung Country, at the edge of the Western Highway. Loads of cops. Video provided by activists on the ground. pic.twitter.com/ddfRoweQfb
— Timna Jacks (@TimnaJacks) October 26, 2020
On #DjabWurrung country, 180 years on, not much has changed.#WhiteAustralia policy being enforced by the @DanielAndrewsMP government. #SpringSt @roadprojectsvic @vicroads @LilyDAmbrosioMP @lidia__thorpe pic.twitter.com/a5DcSoYPWZ
— Thomas Parkes (@_thomasparkes) October 26, 2020
All protectors at the Djab Wurrung Embassy have been removed except for 2 people locked to cars, 8 to barrels and 4 in the grandfather and grandmother trees at Top Camp.
Photos from DW Embassy@DanielAndrewsMP #StopWorkonDWLand #NoTreesNoTreaty pic.twitter.com/K2hLRWa9LP
— Friends of the Earth (@FoEAustralia) October 26, 2020
Protesters locked to barrels are being cut out, machinery on its way, cars blocking the entrance to the Djab Wurrung heritage protection embassy pic.twitter.com/NP6MEFiWnu
— Friends of the Earth (@FoEAustralia) October 27, 2020
Since 2018, there have been active protests against the proposed $157 million highway upgrade between Buangor and Ararat.
The Directions Tree, which was chopped down last night, was one of the many sacred trees on the land threatened by this proposal.
There are now social media moves to call the office of Daniel Andrews and the office of Police Minister Lisa Neville to call for change. Other activists are encouraging people to gather on DjabWurrung country to stand and protest.
Dan Andrews' office have stopped talking calls. Voicemail only. Start calling Lisa Neville, Police Minister
03 9637 9654
Get the cops off #DjabWurrung country
— Tara (@tara_stevo) October 26, 2020