In recent years, New South Wales police have cracked down on peaceful protest.
They have used disproportionate and unnecessary force against peaceful protesters, and imposed punitive bail conditions. Alongside recent anti-protest laws, that threaten $22,000 fines and up to 2 years in prison, this crackdown is restricting everyone’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
In Newcastle in November 2021, a police unit usually reserved for organised crime groups raided an environment centre, confiscated paint and chalk. That same month, a climate activist was sentenced to 12 months in prison for peaceful civil disobedience.
Now, in 2022, dozens of people have been arrested for taking part in civil disobedience.
Two people spent 3 weeks in prison after police pushed to deny them bail. Over 30 others face harsh bail conditions, with many banned from communicating with their closest friends or leaving home past 9pm. Some have been forced to give up their passwords. Others have been told to leave Sydney. One was not allowed to leave her apartment for 21 days.
Now, more than ever, we need to protect our right to peaceful protest. History has shown us that protest is powerful. When passionate and courageous people take action, they make the world a better place.
This crackdown means all our ability to fight for human rights and combat the climate crisis are under threat. People shouldn’t face injury, punitive bail conditions, $22,000 fines, and even prison sentences, just for standing up for what’s right.