Saturday, September 08, 2007

APEC Protests

Today's protests in Sydney, to coincide with the APEC forum turned out to be quieter, and more orderly than many expected, and planned for.

There might be a number of reasons for that:
  • some individual people and groups, known troublemakers, were warned off. They included Mutiny, a left-wing group that distributed a manual for APEC that detailed how cause trouble; Resistance, a group that acknowledged on its website that other groups feared it would cause violence; and AC/DC, an anarchist political group (not the band)
  • Police have lessons have been learnt from the Cronulla and Macquarie Fields riots of 2005
  • rain, or the threat of rain, kept some people away
  • the public holiday in Sydney
  • pre-warning by Police that they would tolerate no trouble at all, and had the numbers and equipment to show it
  • Protester fears that the protest could be high-jacked by those individuals and groups seeking violence.
Reports this afternoon indicated 18 people had been arrested: not many out of 3000 - 5000 estimated protesters. Some protesters, as they seem to do, and some parts of the media have questioned the force used by Police in their zero-tolerance approach. One journalist was pushed back, and fell to the ground, while trying to push into the middle of a Police arrest to get a photo. The journalist seemed to have only minor injuries from the push and fall, but some defended the action as part of "the media just doing its job".

Well, no - it is not the media's job to put themselves into a position that interferes with Police officers' work. The photo could have taken from the 3-5 metres without interfering with Police.

Whether the Police operations, and the special APEC laws, were excessive ought to be discussed as part of a debriefing. If a disaster plan, including preventive measures, means a disaster (riot) didn't happen, that is one measure of its success.