NSW police have withdrawn a false allegation that four climate change protesters who stopped traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge last year blocked an ambulance.
Police included this false allegation in a statement that the police prepared on the day of the arrests. The false allegation was designed to paint a hostile image of four peaceful protesters and to successfully argue for onerous bail conditions, including severe restrictions on their movements, and tough sentences.
NSWCCL President Josh Pallas described the case as “an outrageous” example of “police misstating the facts which have been consequential in the sentences of others. The police have offered no justification for this misstatement of facts. They must be held accountable and at the very least, explain how they got this so wrong.”
“Climate protesters are being increasingly and disproportionately subjected to punitive legal action by Australian authorities and this has taken that legal action to a new extreme,” he said. Pallas described this period as “some of the darkest times our members have seen for protestors,” since CCL started advocating for protest rights in 1963.
“We have fought the slow repression of police and the state in cracking down on protest every step of the way. But the fight is hard when the government is protecting mining and business interests and when the mainstream media side with government and large corporates with vested interests to stifle the right to protest, ” he said.
“These cases provide yet another example of why everyone should be concerned about increasing repression of public assemblies and protests in NSW and elsewhere around the country. The right to protest and public assembly is an essential democratic right. Stifling protest stifles freedom of expression. Enough is enough, the government and the police must respect the right to protest and be accountable for their actions.”
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