Militarised police raid on climate campaigners is draconian police overreach

Yesterday’s extraordinary armed police raid on a private property in the Blue Mountains to arrest climate campaigners under suspicion of planning a peaceful protest action was an astonishing and brazen overreach of police powers, says Greens NSW MP Abigail Boyd.

MEDIA RELEASE: Militarised police raid on climate campaigners is draconian police overreach

20 June 2022

Yesterday’s extraordinary armed police raid on a private property in the Blue Mountains to arrest climate campaigners under suspicion of planning a peaceful protest action was an astonishing and brazen overreach of police powers, says Greens NSW MP Abigail Boyd.

Quotes attributable to Greens NSW MP Abigail Boyd:

“The actions of NSW Police, launching a preemptive raid against a property with a hundred armed police, dogs and helicopters, on suspicion of planning a protest action, is a terrifying overreach and abuse of power against peaceful climate campaigners.

“That police felt emboldened under this new anti-protest legislation to take this extraordinary authoritarian action should send a shockwave of alarm throughout our society - it is exactly the kind of assault on our democratic rights we warned of when these terrible laws were rushed through just months ago.

“The tactics being deployed by the NSW Police are taken directly from the playbook of repressive police state regimes around the world, serving to stifle political expression and civil dissent and serving as a protection racket for big business and industries who turn a profit on the destruction of our environment and social wellbeing.

“The Greens utterly condemn this police action. We must resist this authoritarian creep towards a police state. The Greens will, at every point, continue to resist and oppose this anti-democratic trend and the dangerous legislation that enables it.

“It’s unclear on what legal basis the warrant was executed, and the justification provided by police has been vague.

“There are numerous conflicting and frankly implausible statements in the police story seeking to explain away their extraordinary armed deployment against a group of unarmed peaceful climate campaigners, who were not breaking any laws and were on private property.

“There are reports that these armed and masked police officers failed to identify themselves when the campaigners first came across them on the morning of the raid. After being discovered on the property, it is reported that a large black car sped down the private driveway to the campsite, which the two camouflaged officers entered. The vehicle reportedly accelerated towards people standing on the road, striking and injuring two people.

“Blockade Australia is a climate campaigner group with exactly zero history of violence. For armed police to claim they feared for their lives seems a cynical attempt to spin a narrative to legitimise an enormous and militarised raid on a group of peaceful activists.

“Blockade Australia report that, after the police returned with the full scale raid of the camp, a number of understandably scared and intimidated people fled into the bush. By 9pm, and with NSW Police occupying the campsite since 11am, one person was still missing. During cold and dangerous conditions, it’s reported that the police obstructed efforts to search for this missing person, threatening locals and Blockade Australia members with arrest and preventing an SES search crew from being deployed.

“The actions of NSW Police were dangerous and reckless, and risked the life and wellbeing of peaceful climate campaigners and local residents.

“We have won so many of the rights we now take for granted through protest actions and civil disobedience, but both of the major parties in NSW have joined together to pass laws that give police licence to intimidate residents and raid properties on the mere suspicion of a peaceful protest being planned.

Non-violent direct action is not something that exists separate from politics - it is a fundamental avenue of political expression. The rights of free political speech are under attack by this Coalition Government and the Labor Party.

“The NSW Liberals have been busy these last weeks spinning a pre-election narrative as a more cuddly and socially progressive party that is distinct from their federal counterpart - but it’s in these actions that they once again show their true colours. They’re trying to tell us they want to give the people of NSW a leg up, when really all we get is the boot.”

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