In Response to ‘Anti-Protest’ Law, Tens of Thousands Protest Across Australia
It’s about asylum seekers. Unions. The environment and animals. The postal service or the ABC. And there’s even a bit of dancing.
The March for March protest snaked through Melbourne with tens of thousands demanding action on a mixed bag of issues.
Some danced on Sunday while shouting, “We demand better!” and “Not in my name!” while others held placards that stated: “Abbott, you’re a disgrace”.
What united them was anger and frustration at everything that’s happened since the federal election.
“I’m really angry about a number of things,” said Jenni James, 59, who helped organise the Melbourne protest with three others.
“They’re not listening to us. They’re lying to us. And there are a lot of people here who have never been in a protest in their life”.
Organisers began planning the protest on social media, which quickly ignited interest among activist and left-leaning groups.
Similar protests were held at a number of other cities, including Sydney and Brisbane.
Melbourne organisers estimated crowd sizes to reach 30,000 people.
While Coalition policies were the target for many protesters, Labor was also criticised at the protest with some placing blame on the previous government for bringing back offshore detention.
RMIT professor Peter Norden said he joined the protest due to problems at detention centres on Manus Island and Naru.
“It’s something that’s equally shared between the previous Labor government and the new government,” he said.
Van Badham, who spoke at the rally, said she was surprised to see how the protest was organised by people she hadn’t previously met in Melbourne’s activist and social justice circles.
“It’s not the usual suspects. They’re here, but they’ve had nothing to do with the organising,” she said while marching down Bourke Street.
“This protest is so community focused and taps into this real sense of displacement and moral anger, which is quite unusual.”
Tim Denton, 60, had been to several previous protests but decided to bring his 87-year-old mother in a wheelchair to participate this time around.
He said he’s angry at Victoria’s “move on” laws that can see people banned from demonstrating in certain public places.
“They’re actually trying to stop protests and it’s our right to protest,” he said.
The crowd later splintered into two different groups: one which spilled out into Treasury Gardens to listen to speeches while another more rowdy group danced on Spring Street and briefly refused to be moved on by police.
One man kept calling a half-dozen police officers “war criminals” as they tried to get him off the road, but he eventually walked away.
A small group also wore “F— Tony Abbott” T-shirts and held banners that portrayed the prime minister as the devil.
A police spokeswoman said no one was arrested or injured throughout the Sunday rally.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tens-of-thousands-gather-for-march-in-march-protest-20140316-34v1x.html#ixzz2w8n8HIzi