The Age: Three arrested as East West Link protesters picket Liberal gathering. August 29, 2014 Carolyn Webb, Reporter for The Age
Police arrest a protester. Photo: Andy Hazel/unipollwatch
Three people have been arrested for allegedly attacking police during a rowdy, aggressive protest by opponents of the East West Link outside a Liberal Party election fundraising event.
A police spokeswoman said two men and a woman were charged with assaulting police and released pending summons. Several police were accused of assault by protesters.
The trio, who were led away in handcuffs, were among up to 100 protesters who fought police attempts to break their linked hands that were blocking guests from entering the pre-election function at the Regent Plaza Ballroom in Collins Street from about 5.30pm on Thursday.
The protest gets under way. Photo: Andy Hazel/unipollwatch
Protesters chanted “No tunnel, no way, we’re going to fight it all the way” and jeered and jostled politicians, businesspeople, lobbyists and party members as they tried to enter the function. Police and security guards shepherded shocked guests including Health Minister David Davis and Transport Minister Terry Mulder through the throng.
Surprised theatregoers on their way to see the musical Wicked were escorted around the picketers by theatre staff.
Protest organiser Anthony Main claimed the policing had been overzealous.
“I think the problem has been that we’ve had a hundred or more coppers here tonight pushing and shoving people around at what was intended to be a peaceful protest,” he said.
The officers present would not comment on operations, but maintained their presence was for safety reasons.
Mr Main said the state government was using the East West Link and other major road projects to leverage donations from big businesses in the lead-up to the November state election. He said companies set to profit from road projects had been asked to spend up to $10,000 to buy a table at the dinner.
“Napthine refuses to make the business plan for the East West Link public because it would show that the only people set to benefit are the big banks and the major transport and construction firms,” Mr Main said.
“If allowed to go ahead, ordinary people will have their homes, parks and communities destroyed. Taxpayers will shoulder the burden of any losses and motorists will pay via expensive tolls.”
Thursday night’s protest is the latest in a series of protests against the East West Link, which have included a protest outside the office of Labor MP Jane Garrett.
Despite the altercations, Mr Main described the protest as a success and said more pickets and demonstrations could be expected.
with Andy Hazel (UniPollWatch)