Police brutality at Sydney Mardi Gras?

WARNING THIS VIDEO DOES CONTAIN STRONG VIOLENCE

 Last night I tweeted and shared a video of an incident at the Sydney Mardi Gras. The video appears to show a young man under arrest being detained by police. Whilst the video does not provide any insight in to what happened before the filming or the reasons why the young man was being arrested it is clear that the young man is distressed and already suffering a head wound.

Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop from ABC news reports,

Police have charged a teenager whose arrest has sparked allegations of police brutality at Sydney’s Mardi Gras celebrations.

A video posted on YouTube shows a policeman throwing the handcuffed 18-year-old to the ground and putting a foot into his back after the parade on Oxford Street on Saturday night.

The young man appears to have a head injury, and an officer repeatedly tells witnesses to stop filming as the man cries and cowers on the ground.

What happened between police and the man before the incident is not clear.

This morning New South Wales Police released a statement saying they had charged the man with assaulting police, resisting arrest and using offensive language.

He has been ordered to face court in April.    Click (here) for the full article.

The trial by social media of both the police officer and the young man has already begun.

Since the release of this video further reports of heavy handed police tactics have been reported. One man claims to have been thrown to the ground and kicked by five police for attempting to cross the road, after he had been ordered not to by a police officer.

Serkan Ozturk from Same Same reports that leading activist Bryn Hutchinson alleges he was kicked and stomped on by up to five police officers for attempting to cross the road after the end of the parade.    Click (here) for the full article.

“They then turned me onto my front and pressed my face into the road, held me tightly by putting my arms behind my back and then folded my legs up. That’s when a number of police officers kicked me. There was approximately three. I couldn’t see them all but witnesses have told me since that there was up to five of them”.

Violence perpetrated by police against the GLBTI community is nothing new. In fact the reason Mardi Gras began in Sydney was as a response to heavy handed and brutal police tactics used against the GLBTI community. On the 24th of June 1978 a celebration and commemoration of the Stonewall riots grew from 500 people to 2000 people on Oxford st calling for an end to discrimination against homosexuals and a repeals of anti-gay laws. The march was broken up by police who arrested 53 people.

The police are there to enforce the law, if you ignore an order not to cross the road then you should expect a reaction. But what kind of force is justifiable? Does the officer know if the perpetrator is carrying a weapon, under the influence, or feeling violent. How much force is required to neutralise the situation in a manner that is safe for both them and the person they are detaining?  Was is really necessary to throw the young man to the ground, handcuffed so hard that the video’s audio captured the crack of his skull on the concrete, risking brain injury, concussion and even death?  These are questions I am not qualified to answer but which I am sure will be under discussion in the coming investigations.

What is also concerning is the use of intimidation against the cameraman who is told to stop filming “coz I said so”.

“Coz I said so”, is not an acceptable response from an officer who has been asked “under what law”. If our law enforcement is to be subject to the rules of “coz I said so” then we are on dangerous ground indeed.

The police do a hard thankless job everyday. It’s not fair to paint the whole force with the same brush, but serving and protecting the community means everyone, not just the people you like. It also means serving and protecting those in your charge and care, throwing a guy half your sized to the ground achieves nothing.

Great progress has been made by brave members of both the community and the police force to increase understanding and tolerance. This years parade featured a strong police contingent marching in support of the community. The police now march regularly at pride events around the country. There is no doubt that the reports coming from this years Mardi Gras will again shake the communities faith in those that are supposed to protect us.

 

 

  • watching the watchers

    It is unfathomable and inexcusable that this police officer who took an oath to “serve and protect” could behave in such a manner. It is clear the young man is a much smaller build and while cuffed posed little threat to anyone. Throwing the young man to the ground knowing he was being filmed only demonstrates his complete arrogance and disrespect for others. He should be sacked as an example to others that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.

  • Lars

    PLEASE DON’T judge the NSW Police Force on the actions of a single officer.

    This was an isolated incident, while the
    conduct of the officers is questionable (and subject to review), the
    video doesn’t show the events that lead up to the individual’s
    arrest/assault. Two separate investigations have been launched, the
    Professional Standards Command are looking into it. The New South Wales
    Ombudsman and the Police Integrity Commission are overseeing the
    investigations.

    The officer in question has been suspended pending investigation.

    If you remember a few months ago the excessive use of force at the SCG (the officer was the son senior NSW police officer…he immediately handed over the case to another officer, as it was unprofessional to investigate a case involving his son)…While the SCG video showed an adverse picture of the NSW police, after the full investigation the officer’s conduct was justified.

    If you see an officer, it doesn’t take much to thank them, might not mean a lot to you…but it will mean a hell of a lot to them, and put a smile on their face.

    PLEASE DON’T judge the NSW Police Force on the actions of a single officer.

    • SteveMN

      But is this the actions of a single officer, or is it reflective of a growing pattern of police abuse spreading worldwide. Though probably less so in Europe, but there have been abuses in the UK.

      The police are rapidly be coming more militarized and more fascist in their tactics because there is no one to hold them accountable.

      In some states in the USA, you can actually be charge with felony Wire Tapping for video taping the police IN PUBLIC.

  • SteveMN

    “assaulting police, resisting arrest and using offensive language”

    This is police code for we beat the shit out of him and now we are covering our asses.

    Now, given the circumstances, the kid could have been acting like an obnoxious ass. But that doesn’t quite justify what seems to have happened. The problem is, there is no independent unbiased authority to investigate these things. At least not one that can be trusted. No one can or will challenge the police’s word on it. Which is precisely why police hate video cameras. In court they can claim anything and are taken at their word. However, frequency, video evidence goes completely against police claims. Lying on the witness stand has become routine for police.

    As to videoing what happens. The police don’t like that. But I think if a defendant is allowed to present evidence in court in his defense, then neither the Police or Prosecution can interfere with his ability to gather that evidence. What good is the ability to present evidence, if your ability to gather evidence is suppressed?

  • Adam

    just be glad you dont have anything like the Castle Rock v Gonzalas ruling in the US, where the supreme court ruled that the police did not have a duty to protect or to even arrest someone they didnt want to when so ordered by a court. NYPD is currently citing that ruling as justification for why two officers assigned to a manhunt to find a serial stabbist did not intervene when the man they were looking for started repeatedly stabbing a subway passenger, and instead stood behind a closed and locked door, watching through the glass.