In Brisbane Thursday supporters of protesters arrested during G20 gathered outside the Magistrates Court to show solidarity with those facing charges. Their charges ranging from possession of a prohibited weapon (an innocent bystander in the Valley, no intent to protest, happened to have a sling shot in his backpack that someone had just given him), Possession of masks, and contravene Prohibited Persons conditions. Most elected to have the cases adjourned, with one arrestee choosing to have the matter dealt with on the spot receiving a small bond and no conviction recorded.
The support rally was organised primarily by Anonymous Brisbane and Anonymous Galactic in solidarity with ‘Anthony’, an Anonymous protester who was arrested during the Saturday march for wearing an Anonymous mask and refusing to remove it when asked. Anthony intends to fight the charges, arguing that he had a lawful excuse to be in possession of a mask since it was being used as a form of political expression.
Under UN treaties to which Australia belongs, political expression and peaceful assembly without undue restrictions are considered rights.
Even without relying on the Government to recognise it’s obligations under UN treaties (something that isn’t happening for asylum seekers or indigenous people), the G20 Act itself says that Prohibited Items can be legally carried or used if for a lawful purpose. And under the G20 Act, peaceful assemblies were deemed lawful even if no permission had been sought from the authorities. So protesters are demanding that the charges be dropped.
Supporters for two Anarchists charged were also present as well as supporters of Cairon O’Reilly. Well known for his peaceful direct action protests, O’Reilly took advantage of his reputation in order to generate media coverage for his attempts to talk to US President Barack Obama about Chelsea Manning’s plight. During the G20, O’Reilly intentionally contravened a Prohibited Persons order by being present in a Declared Area.
Protesters are saying that the G20 laws were inappropriate because they restricted freedom of assembly and that their use represents adoption of what is likely to become a slippery slope towards ever increasing restrictions in the future.
After their hearings, some of the arrestees spoke with the Briscan Activist Support Team, who are offering advice and assistance to people caught up in the G20 laws.