Beeliar Legal team launch damning report – call for investigation
A report is being launched today by the legal support team for the Beeliar protests that documents over twenty incidents of excessive use of force, unlawful use of pepper spray, injuries from horses, tasers threatening minors, unlawful arrests, innocent people being strip searched and a culture of aggression and violence towards community activists.
In addition a community survey with more than 200 respondents, revealed a devastating loss of trust in the community, including significant and disturbing findings relating to more than 100 children and how they viewed police as a result of the protests – in addition to numerous violent incidents witnessed and experienced and a notably different approach taken to Aboriginal activists.
Beeliar Legal Support member Christine Duckham said, “Our team called for people in the community to come forward with their experiences. It has been frankly shocking to see the level of distress and fear that was felt in the community over the way policing was managed during this process. Numerous people were injured and treated unlawfully.”
Sally was injured on the 12th January in a horse charge – “We were everyday citizens who had exhausted all measures, all democratic processes. I was peacefully resisting, and I expected to be arrested but I didn’t expect to be injured” Sally, 57, Research development
Peter Rattigan represented more than a dozen people involved in the Roe 8 protests, “This was a lose-lose situation. The community lost, and the police lost the trust of the community. These were mainstream, law abiding people – doctors, lawyers, students, accountants… driven to extraordinary lengths to protect their local environment.
They should not have been treated so aggressively. We are calling for the minority of police who acted unlawfully to be investigated, but more importantly, a thorough investigation needs to look into the systemic issues that this raised – the culture of policing, the hostility towards nonviolent protesters, and the way people were targeted and vilified,” he concluded.
Nicola Paris stated, “Whilst these findings are deeply disturbing – among the worst policing I have seen across the country, in working with nonviolent activists – this report and survey presents a new opportunity. This new ALP government, was elected on a strong mandate for environmental protection and in support of ceasing the political destruction of Roe 8. With a new police commissioner also to be announced, we have an opportunity to reframe the way police interact with nonviolent community protesters. I call on the ALP to support us in a thorough investigation of the way policing of this project was managed.”
The report has been supported by the National police accountability network, Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre, national and local environment groups such as Friends of the Earth (Australia) and the Conservation Council of WA.
Conservation Council director, Piers Verstegen said, “The destruction of unique and endangered ecosystems just before the election has been shown to be politically motivated – and so was the police presence and actions at the site.”
“Our police force is there to protect the community from crime – but instead police were used as a tool for the state government to commit crimes against the environment and community.”
Professors for the Beeliar Wetlands also signed on to support the recommendations, including: Professor Baden Offord, Professor Andrea Gaynor, Professor Janette Hartz-Karp, Associate Professor Stella Tarrant, Professor Dora Marinova and Professor David Whish-Wilson.
WHAT: Spokespeople include:
- Sally was injured by a horse and will speak to her experience
- Caroline was targeted, arrested unlawfully and strip searched.
- Peter Rattigan – Lawyer and human rights advocate
- Christine Duckham – Community representative, Beeliar Legal Support
- Nicola Paris – Report Author, Beeliar Legal Support/CounterAct
They will be supported by a crowd of 30 wetland defenders and community representatives with flags and banners for a photo opportunity and vision at the Wetlands.
WHERE: Beeliar Wetlands, Progress Drive, north of the playground
WHEN: 9am launch followed by community brunch
CONTACT: Nicola Paris: 0422 99 00 40
Christine Duckham: 0408 931 633
Vision and footage will be available.
Protest vision referring to various incidents will be online here with the report.