S11 Day One - Overview, From Melbourne IndyMedia
S11 Day One - Overview
by JK 5:42pm Mon Sep 11 '00
It's 2pm Monday September 11 and it appears the s11 blockade of the World Economic Forum at Crown Casino in Melbourne has been a success. About half of the 800 delegates to the conference have been prevented from entering the building and inside the feeling is a little tense. Apparently some delegates have refused to leave their hotel rooms to attempt running the blockade. Protesters are claiming victory in their efforts to "close down the WEF". A number of police have been hurt, one Crown security officer had his jaw broken and at least one protester taken to hospital after a police charge on protester lines.
Inside the Forum Australian Treasurer, Peter Costello, was visibly shaken as he opened the conference to only a third of intended delegates. More arrived later, brought in by helicopter to the roof of the casino or ferried in by barge down the river. Two busloads of dignitaries drove around the entire complex, repeatedly attempting to broach protester lines. At last count they'd been in the buses for in excess of six hours.
According to one rumour, the head of Microsoft and the world's richest nerd, Bill Gates, has cancelled his address to the forum and will now not be attending. Though the Age website says he is not deterred and will give his address tomorrow.
Earlier in the day protesters surrounded two cars, one carrying Victorian Liberal (conservative) opposition leader, Dr Dennis Napthine, and the other with Western Australian Premier, Richard Court. Dr Napthine's car has daubed with paint and the words "WEF Kills". Eventually he was allowed to leave, but not so Richard Court, Premier of WA, an Australian state with some of the most draconian laws relating to Aboriginals, refugees and the environment. Mandatory sentencing, a law that unfairly targets young Aboriginal males, has been called a racist law by the UN, Amnesty International and human rights groups.
Up to 500 protesters surrounded the premier's car chanting "This is what democracy looks like" and old favourites like "the people united will never be defeated". A shaken and concerned Mr Court sat stony-faced as one Aboriginal man, who came from WA, repeatedly demanded the premier repeal mandatory sentencing. The man climbed on the bonnet then the roof of the car to raucous cheers from the crowd. The crowd held the car up for over an hour. Eventually police baton-charged protesters in an attempt to clear a path for the car to leave. Horses were brought in as backup. At least one protester was injured and sent to hospital when police charged.
Indymedia footage appears to show the man
falling to the ground before being hit a number of times by
police. When he manages to get to his feet his face is
covered in blood. A number of other people were treated by
medical staff at the site for a variety of injuries.
Police continued to baton-charge protesters after the car had left, eventually forcing their way out of the crowd. At other entrances horses were used to try and force passage but were again unsuccessful, despite a number of injuries, including crushed feet.
Later in the day delegates attempted to access the casino via the Yarra River, located adjacent to the building. A boat was first used to try and ferry delegates to the forum but protesters successfully prevented them from boarding. Later attempts were hampered when the Yarra, which is a tidal river, rose, making access impossible due to low bridges. Eventually a bargeload of delegates was transported downriver to the site. However, according to reports from inside the forum, the first load got so wet in the open barge that rest refused to go.
Despite ugly scenes in the morning, the afternoon was
more sedate. Bands and speakers entertained protesters and
police alike at the main stage located at the city end of
the casino. An impromptu dance party broke out when a truck
with a portable sound system turned up. A fitting end to an
So on day one protesters have had the major success and police and forum organisers are left to ponder the coming two days and why thousands of people don't agree with their "business as usual" philosophy.