Police have clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters, with protesters being forced from the street into Central Station and several in attendance being pepper sprayed.
Protesters had been sitting on the ground on the road, with an impromptu speak out. Police ‘kettled’ protesters, surrounding them on three sides to push protesters first onto the footpath, and then into Central Station.
“Every few minutes there was a concerted effort to push protesters further back into the station,” Seth Dias, a protester present says.
“The cops then closed the entrances and platforms so we were essentially trapped.”
Protesters then sat down on the floor of the stairs for an impromptu speakout against police brutality and racism. Most protesters then went to leave via trains on Platform 19, though chants continued.
Police then began pepper spraying protesters, who rushed to the platforms above. Police then announced that protesters on the platforms had been ordered to move on.
“This happened even as people were still being treated for the pepper spray and were unable to move,” Dias told Honi.
“I went down to the ground level of the North Concourse and just saw streams of pepper spray everywhere.”
One 25 year old protester who was pepper-sprayed, told Honi that there had just been a “cop and he just was staring at me.
“He couldn’t have been more than a metre or two away.”
“I didn’t even see the pepper spray coming, he gave no warning.”
“As soon as the pepper sprayed me my eyes shut, I couldn’t see. I felt burning all over my face, I still do [an hour later].
“I thought I was going to die.”
“I’m pretty pissed off, I was pushed to the front of the protesters, I didn’t even know what was going to happen,” a 17 year old protester told Honi.
“The police officer who sprayed me was about half a metre away,” she says.
“It was close enough that it wasn’t a mist, it was liquid on my face that I could feel burning.
“A lot of the people who were sprayed at the front were really young, I’d say mostly 17 to 21 year olds,” she says.
After speaking to several attendees on Platform 19 following the violence, Honi understands that the standoff between protesters and police lasted for around an hour and a half.
A teenager told Honi, “I’ve never witnessed anything quite like it. My friends and I are incredibly shaken right now.”
Another attendee said that, “For many people here, this was our first protest.”
Even after tensions between police and protesters had ended, more police were seen arriving at Central Station.
Honi understands that around 100 attendees were hit with pepper spray.