Cop violence requires a response: that was the call out from activists in Sydney this week after cop attacks on young LGBTI people enjoying themselves at Mardi Gras. One young man was thrown to the ground and then stood on. A Sydney activist reports being beaten as he crossed Oxford Street.
The Queer Avengers answered that call, and on Friday 13 people rallied outside the Australian High Commission in Wellington, showing solidarity with demonstrations against police brutality happening in Sydney at the same time.
The NSW police have form – they attacked the first Mardi Gras, an assault for which they have never apologised. Harassment of Aboriginal people, and deaths in custody, are part of Sydney life.
An injury to one is an injury to all, and so we were proud to stand alongside demonstrators in Australia. But Sydney also has a special place in the queer cultures of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Carmen Rupe made her home in the Surry Hills for many years; thousands of people have traveled to Mardi Gras over the years; and, in the years before Homosexual Law Reform, Sydney was a refuge for LGBTI people from Aotearoa. This fight is our fight. Leif Wauters has a great editorial in Gay Express chronicling the damage the police have done to the carnival of pride that Mardi Gras should be.
Mardi Gras emerged from Gay Liberation – the slogans of that era have a new relevance today. Out of the closets and into the streets! End police brutality!