Occupy Melbourne

Thousand Warrior March passing Occupy Melbourne protest DSC 6126.JPG
Thousand Warrior March passing Occupy Melbourne protest

The Occupy Melbourne protest started on Saturday 15 October 2011. The protest was a random gathering of people concerned with outcomes from the Global Financial Crisis such as governments bailing out banks.

2011 Occupy Melbourne livestream
2011 Occupy Melbourne livestream

Other concerns include:

  • Corporate greed – company and shareholder profits take precedence over social justice and environmental concerns and executive salaries continue to rise.
  • Banks – dishonest and illegal banking practices contributed to the Global Financial Crisis. Taxpayers bailed out the banks yet many of their bad practices continue.
  • Democracy – many elected representatives to do not reflect the wishes of a significant proportion of the population.
  • Wealth distribution – 1% of the population hold a large proportion of total wealth.

The Occupy Melbourne protest was inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest that started in New York on September 17 2011.

Occupy Melbourne timeline

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle stated that the protest should be terminated on Friday 21 October 2011.[1]

It was forcibly ended by Police on 21 October 2011 when they evicted protesters from Melbourne’s city square. 95 arrests were made and one protester was taken to hospital for treatment.[2]

Robert Doyle’s move to evict the protesters by force using the Police was criticised as excessive and inappropriate in The Australian newspaper editorial.[3]

On Friday 21 October Occupy Melbourne called for a full inquiry into unlawful police behaviour and violence associated with their disruption of the Occupy Melbourne protest.[4]

“We call on Premier Ted Ballieu and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle to back a full and independent investigation into the use of unlawful and excessive force by Victoria Police and the Melbourne City Council,” said Occupy Melbourne spokesperson Erin Buckley.””More than 20 statements have been taken from individuals who have experienced police violence including eye gouging, kicks to the groin, punches to the face, knees to the face and arbitrary pepper spraying, including of minors. One incident involved an elderly woman with a walking stick who was pushed to the ground by riot police,” she said.Occupy Melbourne’s legal support team also say they have evidence of dozens of Police on duty without name tags or badges, in breach of police regulations and previous assurances from Victoria Police that all officers would be identifiable as required by law.”It is unacceptable that the kind of violence we have witnessed today can occur in our city without any accountability. That means a full independent investigation is required,” she said.

On Sunday 23 October, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu praised police for the way they broke up the Occupy Melbourne protest on Friday and said protesters had broken their promise to leave peacefully.[5]

Robert Doyle stated that the Occupy Melbourne protesters were

“a self-righteous, narcissistic, self-indulgent rabble tried to capture the city.”[6]“Occupy Melbourne”? Maybe. But also a hard core of serial and professional protesters, hell-bent on trouble, infiltrating a protest for their own purposes, then holding the city to ransom.”

“The protest was infiltrated by professionals: what were those knives, hammers, bottles, bricks and fuel for? And what happened to the solemn promises by the “real” Occupy Melbourne spokespeople that they would leave peacefully when required?”

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan said the Occupy demonstrations in Australia and around the world have intensified debate about social and economic inequality in societies across the globe. However, Mr Swan said while the protests don’t have a concrete set of aims or demands, those in Sydney and Melbourne should not have resulted in violence.“There seems to be a growing sense of frustration in many countries that opportunities are not being evenly shared and that the burden of the global economic downturn has been carried by those that can least bear it.”[7]

Robert Doyle stated on 24 October that 

“We don’t intend to allow people to set up tents anywhere in the city. We have adopted a zero-tolerance policy.”[8]

On 8 November 2011 Lord Mayor Robert Doyle was interviewed by Jon Faine on Radio 774. Doyle stated that does not support an independent inquiry into the Occupy Melbourne eviction and the methods used. He was also quite angry at Jon Faine’s observations about the eviction of Occupy Melbourne protesters from the Melbourne City Square and was evasive when asked about the violence that occurred.

Doyle was strongly opposed to an independent inquiry into the decisions and events surrounding the the eviction yet he stated that the correct actions were taken by him and the Police and that were “issues of public safety, malcontents, people looking for trouble, elements of professional protest, and people posing a risk to public safety”. Jon Faine pointed out that if was the case, what would he have to fear from an independent inquiry?

Doyle cautioned Jon Faine that he “must be careful about what he says and not over react”[9]

There are many images and videos of violence during the eviction. An independent inquiry is required to determine exactly what happened. Violence against passive protesters is not acceptable in society.

Occupy Sydney protest

2011 Occupy Sydney protest girl cuffed
2011 Occupy Sydney protest girl cuffed

Police force was also used to break up the equivalent Occupy Sydney protest. Protesters claimed they were bashed and manhandlded during the dawn raid at Martin Place, while NSW Police denied using excessive force.[10]

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore stated that the Council did not request police intervention and put out the following Tweet:

@CloverMoore I support anyone protesting peacefully- @nswpolice manages protests in Syd& I’m concerned by reports of violence on both sides #occupysydney

Clover Moore stated on a Facebook wall post on 23 October:

“I respect the right of people to protest.””The City was not informed prior nor gave any direction to the Police to act against the protestors early this morning.”

“References to Council ordinances or by-laws are inaccurate, these have not technically existed in NSW since the introduction of the 1993 Local Government Act. The Police chose to enforce signage in Martin Place that prohibits camping – the Act gives the Police the authority to act. The Act is managed by the State Government.””I am concerned about reports of violence.”

The Occupy Sydney protesters vowed to continue their protest. Occupy Sydney spokesman Tim Davis Frank stated that

“This movement will only get stronger because of these illegitimate actions attempting to silence us.”[11]


Police charge in formation and continue arrests on Swanston st – Occupy Melbourne Day 6 part 3

External links


  1. Protesters vow to stay as Doyle urges peaceful end, The Age
  2. Occupy Melbourne | Police surround City Square, protesters refuse to leave , The Age
  3. Occupying the protesters’ time, The Australian
  4. Police Violence Warrants Full Inquiry: Occupy Melbourne, Media Release: Friday 21 October 2011
  5. Premier praises police over protest action, The Age, 23 October 2011
  6. Selfish rabble got what it deserved, Herald Sun, 23 October 2011
  7. Swan disappointed by Occupy violence, Ninemsn.com.au
  8. Occupy Melbourne protesters know to police, Ken Lay says, Herald Sun
  9. Melbourne mornings 8 Nov 2011, Radio 774
  10. Police deny excessive force used in Occupy Sydney raid , Sydney Morning Herald
  11. Occupy Sydney protesters vow to continue, Sydney Morning Herald