It is right to be angry; it is right to protest – land rights now!
So the Bobbsey twins of racism, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, got a little back today of what the thugs who protect them and their ilk dish out to Aboriginal people every day.
Lunching at the appropriately named Porkbarrel Café for an awards ceremony, Gillard and Abbott became the target of a large crowd of demonstrators from the nearby Tent Embassy 40th year commemoration.
Earlier that morning 2000 of us had gathered at the Australian National University for a welcome, some talks, rap and dancing before marching up to Parliament House and then on to the Tent Embassy at Old Parliament House.
It was a fantastic march. At the front where I was we were chanting ‘What do we want? Land rights! and ‘When do we want it? Now!’, followed by ‘What have we got? Fuck all!’, all the time raising our clenched fists to the heavens in a show of defiance and solidarity.
As the head of the march reached a fork in the road we voted unanimously to go up to the New Parliament House. A bit further up, I turned around to see a sea of people, with aboriginal and other flags fluttering and banners raised, all accompanied by a cacophony of sound.
There was joy and laughter, and love and hugs all around, but anger too.
The anger was directed at both Labor and Liberal governments who had done nothing but invade the Northern Territory; nothing to really address the life expectancy gap; nothing to end poverty and disease among Aboriginal people; nothing about sovereignty and paying the rent; nothing about land rights.
We reached the Tent Embassy, exhilarated.
Witnesses reported that during one of the speeches a woman interrupted to say that Tony Abbott had said the Tent Embassy should be moved on. He was fifty metres away with his twin in racism, Julia Gillard.
Why doesn’t he come here and tell us that, they asked? Then someone suggested if he wouldn’t come to them, they should go to him. It spread like wildfire through the crowd.
Soon about 200 of the demonstrators moved from the Tent Embassy commemoration to the café to tell Abbott what they thought of him.
There was a bit of banging on the glass walls.
The chants started as ‘Shame, shame’ and ‘Racists, racists’ and then became a steady “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.’ This is a truth the one percent and their paid mouthpieces, Gillard and Abbott, cannot acknowledge let alone address.
The cops reacted as they always do when confronted by angry Aboriginal people.
The riot squad and the Prime Minister’s protection unit brutalised the crowd to clear a path for Gillard and Abbott, the two politicians of the Northern Territory invasion, the two politicians of hate, the two politicians of dispossession, the two politicians of aboriginal genocide.
Some of the demonstrators banged on Gillard’s car as it left and slowed down its exit.
It shows you how divorced from ordinary people Gillard and her Labor Party are that instead of coming out and talking to the protesters, she got her hired goons to attack them. I guess when you don’t have any case to make for having bettered Aboriginal lives then you need to use force rather than reason.
Then the cops tried to wreak their vengeance on the crowd – an Aboriginal crowd and their supporters – for having dared to protest against these two representatives of the mining companies that are stealing Aboriginal land. Together in a line, they walked slowly towards the protestors chanting ‘Move, move, move’ and in one case, shoved a pepper spray bottle into a demonstrators’ face.
A group of women sat on the road. They named 3 family members who had died in police custody.
As they said, the same brutality the cops had used against the protestors was the sort of brutality used against their family members. They were sitting down and not moving to protest against racism and use of arbitrary force that led too to deaths in custody.
The demonstration was a reminder that polite conversation isn’t going to shift entrenched capitalist interests and their representatives in the Parliament. It might give you fake constitutional changes but not land rights, not sovereignty, not a treaty.
One way to win land rights is for more and bigger and more radical demonstrations for justice to draw in more and more people committed to the struggle and eventually to bring in workers as workers to change the world and recognise sovereignty and negotiate a treaty.
These are the sort of protests that should greet Gillard and Abbott wherever they go.
And when it comes to Aboriginal land rights there is no question of lesser evilism here. Neither Labor nor the Liberals are going to grant land rights unless there is a concerted mass movement on the streets expressing its anger with the lack of progress.
Anything is possible if we can mobilise people. Tahrir Square toppled a dictator.
In Australia Equal Love has put gay marriage on the agenda, but not yet won it, through a long hard campaign building up to the demonstration of 10,000 outside Labor’s National Conference in December. The struggle continues.
Now for land rights. Today’s protest was a first step in that direction.
You might also like to read my article Australia Day celebrates racism and genocide.
There is also Of course Julia Gillard is a racist which I wrote in June 2011, prompted by Labor’s proposed Malaysian non solution for refugees.