Demonstrations against government spending cuts are generally boring affairs, but occasionally they can go a step further than boring demands for reform as this example from Melbourne, Australia shows.
As part of a wave of strikes and demonstrations against welfare cuts, anti- land rights laws and other austerity measures introduced by the incoming conservative government, students decided to stage a demonstration at Parliament House. Such demonsrations have long been a part of student life in Melbourne since the outgoing Labour government had already begun a series of cuts in the 80s and were occasionally livened up by run-ins with the police and on one occasion an attempted occupation of Parliament. This time round things were to be a little different.
Firstly this demo was distinguished by the fact that around half the protestors were high school students and largely working-class ones. Next was that after the ritual march past Parliament House (heavily guarded to prevent a repeat of the previous week's stroming in Canberra) the students went on to occupy the lobby of BHP, Australia's biggest mining company and one that has much to gain from the new laws. Whilst in the lobby the protestors trashed its contents and also broke a number of windows. As this was going on others confronted the media.
Sadly most demonstrations both in Australia and elsewhere are marked by a fixation wih getting 'good' media even though coverage is almost always negative and that the film is generally passed onto the police for their 'research' purposes. In this case though people had learnt from earlier demos where media footage had led to raids and arrests and so decided to interrupt the filming. Incensed by the studentsŐ refusal to be filmed some of the cameramen and jounalists started lashing out, at which point they were forcibly evicted from the building after attempts to seize their film.
Following this the hacks were forced to cower from behind police who eventually cleared the building with a few token arrests ensuing. Perhaps people here in Britain could learn from this example and start giving journalists the treatment they deserve a little more often
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