In media statements published today, the University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council and the Environment Collective have condemned NSW Police for their actions during Friday’s climate protest.
On the march to School Strike 4 Climate’s protest, the USyd students’ contingent stopped on the road outside UTS to wait for their contingent to join, as was initially agreed on with police.
However, police issued a move on order and only seconds later the Riot Squad began dragging students across the road and pushing them into the gutter.
Some students sustained injuries from the violence and footage of the incident has been shown on Nine News, News.com.au and 2GB.
“NSW Police saw this as their one opportunity to make their presence felt, without the presence of professional media and young children,” the Enviro Collective said.
The statement also revealed that Police confiscated a banner petition supporting climate strikes, which had been signed by thousands of students over the past 5 years; “We lost a living artefact of the Sydney climate movement.”
“Police responded to peaceful civil disobedience with disproportionate and pointed violence, showing them to be not a force concerned with public safety, but with the myopic preservation of the status quo,” the statement continued, asserting that the police are not allies of the climate movement because they “uphold the racist, capitalist system.”
The statement connected the NSW Police’s actions on Friday to a pattern of police brutality experienced by University of Sydney students and staff, including Law Professor Simon Rice, at education protests last year.
“Regardless of what happened with the police, it’s not going to stop us from marching whenever we can for climate justice, from demanding a just transition away from the fossil fuel industry towards publicly-owned renewable energy and towards Indigenous-led land management,” organiser and ASEN member Seth Dias told Honi.