On Saturday the 2nd of August a group called Whistleblowers, Activists, and Citizens Alliance (WACA) called for members and allies to unite for an action in the city to show our support for Palestine and Gaza in light of the apartheid and unjustifiable extermination of their population by the Israeli State.

Over the last few weeks we have seen the news reports, personal stories, photos and videos come through from Palestine. For the last 3 weeks in Melbourne there have been rallies in the city to condemn the actions of the Israeli State and raise awareness of the issue within the community. At each rally there has been a good turnout, the speeches have been powerful, the energy in the crowd has been palpable. Last Friday’s action still drew a large crowd in spite of Melbourne weather and we remained in #Solidaritywithgaza in not only the rain but also through 2 hailstorms. As many people in the crowd pointed out “Standing in the rain and hail is nothing when those we are in solidarity with are standing in rocket fire and white phosphorous”.

Friday night gaza rally

The reports and images coming through from Gaza has been heartbreaking, seeing the total death toll increase, and the death toll of children rise has been devastating. Listening to the Israeli Government called for the extermination of the Palestinian people has been enraging. The group had decided that more needed to be done to raise awareness in the community, to get the average Melbournian to know about what is happening in Gaza. It was decided that creating as many banners as possible and dropping them around Melbourne’s busiest areas would be the best choice for a snap direct action on a Saturday afternoon.

Sam Castro, one of the organizers of the action and member of WACA had this to say about why we need to have direct actions on the issue of Gaza and Palestine “Nothing can stop the tears and pain that must be flowing in GAZA and around the world for those already murdered in what can only be described as attempted genocide by the Israeli Apartheid State. But we can all resist publicly in our own little ways and in doing so remind each other of our humanity and the truth.  We can let the Palestinians known, that if nothing else we bare witness to the horror being inflicted on those in Gaza and the West Bank. In a violent world dominated by corporations and brutal Empires, we see you Gaza and we bare witness to the crimes of the Israeli State”.

For our drop we managed to make 5 banners with various slogans explaining our position and designed to get as much attention as possible. We decided to drop our largest banner from the Arts Centre wall, where it faced back to Flinders St Station so that anyone on the Princess St Bridge would be able to see it.
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We then placed 3 of the others on the pedestrian bridge between Flinders St Station and Crown Casino, from here anyone along the Princess St Bridge, exiting the back of Flinders St Station or in any of the Restaurants on South Yarra would be able to see the banners.

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Our final banner drop was at Federation Square, this banner received the most amount of positive attention as there was an action going on with the Iraqi Christians against ISIS happening at the other end of the square. Several attendees stopped to have photos with the banner in the back ground and some came and spoke to us as we dropped the banner and posed in our photos.
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The banner drops achieved their goal of informing the community about this atrocity. It was clear from the response of people on the pedestrian bridge that there is a large portion of the community that doesn’t know about Gaza and the ongoing genocide of Palestinians. However people were happy to engage on the topic and were just genuinely unaware and horrified to hear about the issue.

Keep an eye out for more direct actions to come across the city in relation to this issue, but also encourage your affinity groups to make a stand and do other direct actions on the issue if you feel strongly about Gaza and Palestine. It is clear that more needs to be done to educate people in the community, and also to continue to show the people in Gaza that we are witness to their suffering and the crimes against them and that we will continue to stand with them in solidarity.

For more details on the action please check out:

WACA facebook page

To watch a video filmed by WACA regarding the banner drop please watch:

WACA video of Banner Drop

For high resolution photos please check out:

Free Gaza album

Writen by CJ.

 

 

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This morning a number of medics from Melbourne Street Medic Collective attended the East-West Tunnel community picket of Lend Lease in Docklands in order to support and assist picketers. Lend Lease is being targeted as one of the fore-runners in the bidding process to build the East-West tunnel link. We have supported this campaign as individuals and as a collective for some time and plan to continue this support into the future.

This morning’s action was notable for the level of brutality and violence employed by Victoria Police against picketers. At last week’s picket, organisers arranged to allow non-Lend Lease workers to enter the building after showing ID, and a similar proposal was raised today. However, Victoria Police – seemingly reeling from the positive media coverage generated by last week’s picket – refused to allow this, and instead chose to use workers (mostly from Fujitsu) as tools to create violence and negative press coverage.

Instead of allowing small groups of workers to enter the building calmly and safely, Victoria Police used several members of the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) to break through the community picket and violently thrust workers into the building, while causing distress and injury to those on the picket. Victoria Police did not merely play a passive response to non-Lend Lease employees’ desires to enter the building: on a number of occasions, Victoria Police officers were seen chasing after workers who had decided not to cross the picket line in order to convince them to change their mind and provide another opportunity to inflict violence upon the peaceful picketers.

As a result of Victoria Police’s actions we were required to provide care for a number of injuries. These included minor injuries (cuts and scratches) as well as more serious ones: one person reported an injured shoulder, another received treatment for a sprained ankle. Two people were offered treatment after having their legs trampled and pinned by police and another received treatment for a head injury.

As well as providing care for injuries we provided water and rescue remedy to keep picketers hydrated and in good spirits and we can happily report that the mood was definitely positive.

It cannot be said more clearly that our need to provide medical care stemmed directly from Victoria Police’s decision to employ violence as a tactic to break the community picket. As was acknowledged in the debriefing session after the picket this morning, the Napthine Government’s use of violence to oppose the tunnel picket campaign is proof of their lack of solid justification for the project. The cynical use of workers as collateral in the attempt to destroy the tunnel picket campaign can only be condemned and shows that Victoria Police and the Napthine Government will go to great lengths to ensure this project will continue: even placing the safety of Victorians in jeopardy.

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At the beginning of the year a number of our crew were interviewed by Nick & Katie from Perth’s Progressive Podcast. We talked about the history of Street Medicine, Occupy (Melbourne), organizing using Anarchist principles, Activist Burnout and building Affinity Groups.

Click on the image below to listen to the complete interview.

And if you are desperate to hear independent media in Australia:

be sure to listen to the Progressive Podcast each and every month.

ProgPodcast Interview

Reclaim the night

Reclaim the Night has been running in Australia since 1978 and has been a march for Women to stand up to oppression, sexual assault, rape, victim blaming and all forms of violence. It has been a global event since the 1970s when women across the world took a stand against the crimes that were being committed against women in their local communities.

On the 20th of October this year Melbourne FACT took to Sydney Road in Brunswick to make sure the women and men reclaiming the streets could do so safely.

When we arrived at the corner of Barkley St and Sydney Road at about 6:45pm there was already a small group amassing in front of the ute that was being used to hold the sound system and as a platform for the speakers. When Melbourne FACT attends a rally we split into small groups of two or three street medics – our buddy teams. As a sign of respect to the attendees we divided into pairs that had both a male and female first aider (except for one group which was female only as we were going to walk up the front in the women only section). We felt that this was important as the emotions on the night were likely to be high and the nature of the action meant that female attendees may have felt uncomfortable approaching a male first aider for help.

The speeches started at 7pm and Melbourne FACT moved to our set locations to watch the crowd as more and more people joined the crowd on the road. There were 3 speakers who shared their views on the plight of women and the injustices that have plagued victims in the past (and still do) and discussed what they believed needed to happen in the future to change the issues facing women. Their speeches engaged the crowd and apart from one heckler the speeches went on without any issues and built up an incredible energy in the crowd.

At 7:45pm the MC for the night explained that the main banner was moving out onto the road and directly behind them there would be a women’s only section. By this point in time the crowd had swelled and the Lane heading toward Coburg on Sydney Road was closed by the police. As I was part of the group up the front it was great to see the women’s only section walking together and it was heart warming to know that there were groups of men and children in the section behind us walking in solidarity with the women. As we walked down Sydney Road we did not suffer any heckling or jeering, the local community responded passionately, many people honked their horn in support and people in local eateries cheering us on from the sidewalks.

By the time we had reached the finishing point of the march at the corner of Sparta Place and Sydney Road there were between 4,000 and 6,000 marching to reclaim the night. Some even suggested that there were 4,000 women marching and 2,000 men walking with them in solidarity. Either way the numbers were far greater than had been expected by the organisers and meant that for a period of time the crowd  shut down an entire block and declared their intent to oppose violence in all its forms and to reclaim the night with chants and drum banging.

 

The march was highly successful with more attendees than expected and some news sources even stating that it was the largest Reclaim the Night to have happened in decades – hopefully with such high attendance and coverage in the main stream media these issues will start being faced by the greater public and cause social change.

We would like to thank the Organisers for arranging the march and for inviting MelbFACT to work with them.

 

 “Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull it over and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning.”

Occupy Melbourne: Day 3

An untold story from  Melbourne Street Medic Collective early history is contained within the pages of the Occupy Melbourne Reflects Journal (click here for the FREE DOWNLOAD)

The Occupy Movement sought to bring together a diversity of voices. In June 2012, some of those voices answered a call to contribute to the Occupy Melbourne Reflects project. The resulting stories are a snap shot of opinions and reflections upon the events of the preceding tumultuous 9 months.

This collection of thoughts, analysis and stories offer a valuable  resource because so much of the Occupy Story played out on social networks where considered perspectives were often lost in a cacophony and where reflection is all but impossible to practice. And lessons must be learned if activists and social movements are to flourish. A life-changing convergence like Occupy offers valuable insights into where to go next with our struggle against the policy’s of the 1%.Some of those lessons may very well be preserved within this zine as a lasting legacy on how Occupy played out in Australia.

The MelbFACT story is called: THE SECRET ORIGIN OF AN AFFINITY GROUP and can be found on Page 25 of the journal.

 

 The opening quote is from: ^ Boud D, Keogh R and Walker D (1985) Reflection, Turning Experience into Learning, Routledge. ISBN 0-85038-864-3p. 19