Police are not all the same and we must all respond to militarisation of the police by using our brains

Photo by Craig Holding: Police move in on IMARC blockaders

Contributed by Ugly and added to by Joe Montero

There is a great deal of furor over the attacks of the police on the blockaders of last week’s conference of mining and energy companies (IMARC). The political elite, including the Victorian premier, has sought tocover it up, and prime minister Scott Morrison is falling over himself, to use the fiction of a danger from extremist elements, in order to wage his get tough campaign.

Images from last week made it clear that a series of premeditated attacks took place on those who were peacefully trying to expose, and if possible, disrupt the conference. Not one shred of evidence was put forward that showed the police were being attacked.

The evidence does suggest that the type and level of response had been planned beforehand. This was an organised military style operation that cannot be carried out on the cuff.

Voice of America’s own crew is capsicum sprayed, as it records scenes of police formations and attacks into the ranks of the blockaders and targeting individuals. Despite the images the text accompanying the these images refers to violent protesters engaging in ” violent clashes with Australian police.” This sort of misinformation has unfortunately been mimicked by much of the Australian media.

Video from VOA News

This exercise in premeditated police violence has caused considerable anti-police sentiment. It is understable in the cirxumstrances. People are saying that this force is being used to protect the wealth of the few at the top.

It does not mean however, that every individual police officer should be viewed in the same way.

In the work I do, I have often had to interact over the years, with the police in more than one state. I got to learn about opinions some of them on a range of issues. have

Rescuing victims of  capsicum spray attack

Video by Stephanie Ferrier

A couple of years ago, about a dozen officers separately told me about how they were personally disgusted by the unnecessary and excessive use of capsicum spray on young males, at Sunshine in Melbourne’s west.

One officer said straight out. “This is the first time I ever felt ashamed to be a policeman.”

This year, quite few officers have voiced their concern over global warming and its impacts. They worry for their children and grandchildren. Some sympathy was shown for the climate kids strike and Extinction Rebellion. That some of the officers who were at the Convention Centre last week took it upon themselves to apologise for what the force had done there is no surprise.

In 2011 Wikileaks exposed documents that revealed a network of operations, training 200,000 police and military per year from more than 120 countries. Australia is one of them.

There are those who were on the other side of the fence. This goes without saying. And when police officers do wrong, they should be called out and there should be consequences.

Photo by Patrick Rocca: Police move in from behind

Victoria’s Public Response Group is another story. This is a purposely built army of thugs. Like the special operations component of the Federal Police and counterparts in other states, these are organisations with the special purpose of public control. This is the focus of their training. It is political in nature.

In 2011 Wikileaks exposed documents that revealed a network of operations, training 200,000 police and military per year from more than 120 countries. Australia is one of them and the Public Response Group is in the thick of it.

They are participants in a program that originates in the United States, where along with their counterparts from other countries, they participate in specialised training, involving both the physical and psychological, to prepare them for roles in dealing with the home civilian population.

Photo by Stephanie Ferrier: An injured blockader about to be taken to hospital by ambulance

One consequence is an arms race. Most Australians are probably unaware of the fact that since 2014, a formidable armoury of new weaponry has been supplied, including capsicum spray, rubber bullets, grenades that explode to launch rubber pellets, higher calibre rubber bullets and much more. Last year, armoured personal carriers and new automatic military style firearms were added.

Up till now, the government has not allowed most of these weapons to be deployed. There is a fear that the political fallout would be too great. But this is slowly changing. Victoria is no exception.

Photo by Joe Montero: Members of the Public Response Group about to launch another assault formation

Fear of the population is what is driving this shift towards what the big brass is pushing for. Most people no longer trust the political elite and institutions. Within this, there is a flame that is looking for new answers. The fear is that a critical mass that will no longer comply and become rebelious will rise.

It exists in the climate movement, and unions are beginning to respond to growing dissatisfaction at work. Workplace.

Methods used by the Public Response Group were devised within this context and used to penetrate the crowd and take out intended targets. The aim was to cause injury. Not to clear a space. The purpose was to incite attacks on the police and provide political ammunition, for an escalation in the level of paramilitary policing in Victoria.

To many of us among who were around to see the rise of Adolph Hitler, last week’s events brought back memories of those days. The police actions are a warning signal. The possibility of history repeating is real.

Adolf Hitler: The world has gone down the same road before

The blockaders were astute enough not to fall for the trap. They remained peaceful throughout. It did not prevent claims to the contrary. But it did mean that those who make the claim, were denied the evidence to prove it.

By quickly jumping in and using these claims to announce his get tougher attitude on those he claims are a threat to society, Scott Morrison has shown that the shift to paramilitary policing is on the way. Every Australian should be very concerned. History around the world has shown that this comes in the company of mounting human rights abuses.

An enemy must be created by those behind this shift to clear the way politically. Thus he has begun to talk about an internal enemy that is working to sabotage Australia, and how this makes it necessary to take certain steps.

Photo by Joe Montero. Blockaders standing in a line

This takes us full circle back to where it is wrong to put the same label on all police officers. In the first place, it is wrong. This differentiation is also strategically important to opposing the ongoing militarisation of the police.

There is a divide between the ordinary police and the Public Response Group that should be considered. Utilising the differences has a tactical importance. A divided police force is much less a threat than united one.

If ordinary police are treated with respect, they are more likely to question the developments taking place, and this will contribute to the isolation of the Public Response Group and those who are pulling the strings.

Winning the battle of public opinion is most important. When a political movement shows that it respects people, it is best placed to win public sympathy. When it shows disrespect for people, it loses public sympathy.

By looking at the big picture, it is easier to see that those who engaged in insulting the police at the Convention Centre were not doing anyone a favour. In the first place, police on the receiving end will draw together against those attacking them.

In the second place, a show of verbal hostility provides a means, for the other side to provide visuals of violent intent, and this begins to erode public support.

Engaging in this behaviour projects out into the community, that there is disrespect for others. This is not a good look.

For all those who want to fight against the trend to reaction and state violence in Australia, this is an important matter to sort out.

After all, we are supposed to represent a better future and we convey that best when we set the example.

Our counter to attacks on fundamental rights is the defence of these rights and working towards a society where the previously unheard are finally heard, where ordinary people are empowered and all treated as equals.

2 Comments on "Police are not all the same and we must all respond to militarisation of the police by using our brains"

  1. Sharing a uniform the individual represents the whole ,for good or for bad. Theres a saying, if its too hot in the kitchen get out of it . Police who cannot remain calm in high pressure situations should be given desk jobs .Its a tough job and requires not only skilled people but people who can maintain high integrity and respect for others whatever the situation.

  2. When you refer to
    a’Public Response Group” , do you mean the Public Order Response Team (PORT) or the Operations Response Unit (ORU)?

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