Occupy Melbourne protesters known to police
SOME of those involved in Friday's Occupy Melbourne demonstration were regular protesters known to police. Acting Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said this morning some of the protesters were from BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), which campaigns against Israel. Others were from the Socialist Alliance - an anti-capitalist political party. "Many of these people in the group on Friday and the week leading up are pretty familiar faces to us," Mr Lay told 3AW.
He said a small group of the protesters were intent on fighting police, despite assuring police they would leave peacefully when asked. "I sensed a group of people that were hell bent on having a blue with the coppers and that's exactly what happened, we know that there was a group of people that simply wanted this for their own reasons."
Protesters were given assurance on the Thursday night police would not surprise them early Friday morning with demands to leave and on Friday they were given four warnings to leave from council and police.
Mr Lay said he was proud of the way police acted and they had an abundance of video to support police tactics and refute claims made by the protesters of brutality. "I was very proud of the way our 400 people worked, it was extremely difficult, it was a very long day for them and what I saw was a very well trained, very well disciplined group of people that did exactly what they were trained to do."
Victoria Police will today start examining CCTV footage of Friday's Occupy Melbourne protest for evidence of criminal offences committed by protesters.
Eight police cars were damaged as the crowd was evicted from City Square, and a police spokesman said CCTV footage would be reviewed to find the culprits.
Occupy Melbourne organisers have arranged to occupy Treasury Gardens on Saturday, claiming they have approval from Aboriginal elders of the Wurundjeri people to occupy the space.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said yesterday a team of council compliance officers would prowl the city's streets this week, poised to report any Occupy Melbourne protesters setting up camp. Cr Doyle said the protesters wouldn't have a chance to build an established campsite because compliance officers would catch them as they tried to set up. "We'll certainly task our compliance officers to make sure that we know when they try to set up anywhere. We'll issue them notice immediately that they can't do it and have the tents taken down," he said. "We don't intend to allow people to set up tents anywhere in the city. We have adopted a zero-tolerance policy."
On Friday, police evicted about 100 protesters from City Square, dragging many away writhing and kicking, and set up cyclone fences around the site.
Yesterday Premier Ted Baillieu backed Victoria Police in its use of force, saying protesters had broken their promise. "They said they would move and they didn't, and I think Victoria Police handled the situation well," Mr Baillieu said.