Climate Guardians are immensely proud to have joined hundreds of courageous people from all walks of life—teachers, musicians, traditional custodians, doctors, writers, artists, labourers, nurses, academics and so on—at the recent IMARC (International Mining and Resources Conference) Blockade for Climate Justice in Melbourne.
At the time of writing, around 90 fires are raging across Australia. In Spring.
Since IMARC, many in our group have fielded questions from friends and family who felt confronted by disturbing mainstream media footage and reporting of the event.
Yes, we can confirm that police on horses marched into crowds of defenceless people. Defenceless people were beaten with batons, and pepper sprayed in the face at extremely close range. Be assured this is excruciatingly painful and frightening—it feels like being on fire, blinded and suffocated.
What could possibly have created such scenes of police brutality in central Melbourne, the most progressive city in Australia?
How should we feel about our laws and law enforcement agencies being used against ordinary people calling for people and the natural world to be put before short-term-profits-obsessed ecocidal and antisocial industries?
Why are our police being used as virtual bouncers for extremely rich—as well as notoriously tax-dodging—companies making massive profits from irreparably damaging our common assets in ways that threaten all life on Earth?
Why are peaceful climate protectors the ones being demonised, and under threat of being criminalised?
Since IMARC Victoria Police has now admitted that two officers (that we currently know of) have been found using right wing extremist imagery and language at protests. This is a huge concern, especially since our purportedly progressive Premier has asserted that the police “are doing every one of us proud“.
Surely, on every level it’s wrong for people with dangerously antisocial views to be in taxpayer-funded positions of power where they can cause unnecessary harm to people they disagree with. In this case those people were seeking to hold power abusers to account for their role in propping up the extractive and exploitative industries that are destroying Everything. As has happened in other dangerous times in history with horrifying consequences, are fascists now succeeding in infiltrating our law enforcement agencies?
Of course it’s in ecocidal industries’ interests to portray us as violent. For, as extensive research into authoritarian regimes by leading scholar and author of Why Civil Resistance Works (Columbia University Press, 2011) Erica Chenoweth shows, campaigns of nonviolent resistance are more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts because “many more people—and more diverse groups of people—participate in nonviolent campaigns than in activities perceived to be violent”. Expressed another way, “nonviolence is not merely a moral choice for an individual, but a strategic necessity for a movement.”
We all know that creating controversy is the quickest and easiest means of distracting people from engaging with important public interest issues. As deeply cynical and perverse as it is, hiring shameless (and/or simply desperate) people to behave aggressively at peaceful protests is a well-worn tactic. And of course there is a long and ugly history of police spies infiltrating progressive community based groups, typically those who are peacefully challenging the status quo. It would be absurdly naïve not to expect all manner of meddling by vested interests threatened by basic science and facts, by concepts of human rights and justice.
It must be stressed that in the face of escalating hostilities and shocking police brutality, the courage and solidarity shown by those who peacefully blockaded IMARC was as incredibly humbling as it was inspiring.
With our leaders failing us—as they have for more than half a century—it’s up to communities to defend the natural assets that support life, and to bring forward the socially and ecologically sustainable solutions that deeply conflicted decision makers have kept waiting in the wings for far too long.
We extend our heart-felt appreciation and props to all the caring and courageous people who took time out of their lives, and put themselves at great risk of harm by those whose job it is to protect communities, to genuinely peacefully engage with IMARC’s Blockade for Climate Justice, and special thanks to Julian Meehan for his ongoing incredible work documenting the climate movement’s work with powerful images.
With Love and Solidarity,
The Climate Guardians