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DesDownunder

Claims of police brutality at Sydney gay Mardi Gras

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Police here will break your electronics if they catch you filming at a candid moment.

Sometimes they'll arrest you for "interfering with police business".

Give a small minded ape a gun and badge and they all turn into Mussolini.

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Police here will break your electronics if they catch you filming at a candid moment.

Sometimes they'll arrest you for "interfering with police business".

Give a small minded ape a gun and badge and they all turn into Mussolini.

One would think the locals would catch on to this and make a fortune. They merely have to film the incidents surreptitiously, then get with the person who got mauled and go halvesies with them. They sue the cops, the cops claim innocence, then and only then is the film brought forth; the cops go to jail for perjury and the plaintifs make out like bandits. Two or three times of this and I have to believe the nonsense would stop.

C

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Just to put the incident into a larger perspective: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/digging-up-past-to-reveal-scale-of-gayhate-deaths-20130306-2fle5.html

One quote from the article (which is mainly about historical issues with gay bashings and killings, not the event above):

The biggest mystery is why it has taken 25 years for the scale of the awful possibilities to be understood. One factor was the structure of the police, divided into area commands and treating all these crimes as local. Another was the culture of the police, which had an overt and institutional distaste of gay men 20 years ago. Another factor was AIDS, which was a far more serious concern for gay men. The association of AIDS with gay men also contributed to the malicious attacks. The most common profile of gay-bashing groups was unemployed, unskilled young men.

How times have changed.

During the past 48 hours, a video taken by a phone showing a handcuffed Mardi Gras reveller being thrown to the ground by a police officer on Saturday was viewed about 500,000 times on social media. The police, in responding to the incident, pointed out no explanation was provided as to why the man was in handcuffs, that the police had a float in the Mardi Gras parade, and that relations between the police and the gay community are more solid than they have ever been. All true.

On Wednesday, even Police Minister Mike Gallacher, a former police officer, was moved to issue a statement about the incident: ''The NSW government is committed to ensuring a full and proper investigation is carried out regarding this incident and we will await the outcome.''

This incident will likely be a minor passing squall, but there is a much bigger unresolved issue that might exercise the Police Minister.

Overall, I think the police attitude to gays has improved dramatically over the last 20 years. Was this particular incident one of a policeman going too far, or was their mitigating circumstances? I'm happy to wait - either is possible as far as I can see.

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I don't think I need to wait to know that slamming a handcuffed person around half the weight and several inches shorter than the officer who slammed the kid into the concrete path, is an unnecessary act of brutality. It is indicative of an officer who has lost his self-control, or one whose homophobia was looking for a violent outlet.

We need answers to the situation before the incident which was not videoed, and I suspect those are not going to satisfy anyone; for that, we shall have to await the results of the various investigations.

However, watch this interview with the young man, Jamie Jackson. A threat to society is not how I would describe him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4o1ukRkONQ

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I learnt a long time ago not to listen to only one side in a dispute. I was a basketball referee supervisor at the time, and I had the parent of a young player come up to me to complain. They told me that another player had run over their son, and their son was sent off the court. I checked with the referee - the other player had run over the son, the son got up and tried to hit the guy who ran him over and THEN was sent off the court.

The original statement by the parent was 100% factual - they just left off some critical information. I have no real doubt the young man was telling the truth in that TV interview (I caught a bit of it when it was first aired), but given the admission that he had made a sexual assault (albeit at the very low end of the spectrum), I have to wonder what the "victim" told the police, and how much that played into what happened. Having said that, I also agree with Des that the slamming of the guy into the ground appears to be wildly excessive. I'd need to hear a really, really, really good explanation before I accept that that was justified.

This is going to be played out in upto three courts - the legal system, the court of public opinion and the internal police investigation. Unlike some, I'm not automatically dismissing the police investigation as a whitewash, though I suspect we won't get to hear all the results of that investigation. But I think the police will take it seriously enough that there will be a decent investigation, even if the eventual punishment may appear to be too light to those in the court of public opinion.

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There has to be a line drawn in the treatment of a suspect by the police who are not the final judgement of a person's guilt or innocence. Once the handcuffs are on that is the maximum allowed force a policeman should apply, the rest of what happened to this boy ought to be considered cruel treatment.

Perhaps he was rowdy, said some terrible things, but then the handcuffs came out and he was arrested. He asked for that if his behavior was wrong, the police did the right thing. But then to take a helpless individual and slam them to the concrete is unforgivable violence, the police did wrong.

We don't know this policeman's background, but we soon will. There are good cops and bad cops just as we find in any profession. He will find his actions on trial very soon and judgement will be passed. He needs to know that his actions have inflamed the gay community. He probably needs to find a new job as well.

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Police, when subduing a suspect, are allowed to use necessary force. Once they handcuffed him and have him in their control, their responsibility changes completely. He is then incapable of protecting himself and that becomes their duty. He can be saying nasty things to them but that does not lessen their need to be sure he safe and secure; they have taken away his ability to do that by handcuffing his hands behind him.

No matter what he was saying, they were totally and illegally wrong to abuse him once he was in their control. No matter what he did or said before that, it doesn't matter. Charges should rightly be brought against that officer.

C

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The following report has a video showing the suspect as possibly reacting and kicking at the police after he was handcuffed, and before he was slammed into the ground.

Another incident is referenced, in the report, "[...]about the alleged treatment of gay activist Bryn Hutchinson, who says up to five officers held him down and kicked him after he ignored their instructions to not cross a road on Mardi Gras night."

http://www.smh.com.a...0308-2fp79.html

Re: Bryn Hutchinson, I have seen many kids and adults running across the road during parades and the police didn't take any notice.

Over-policing of the antics of the parade spectators may well be something that the investigations should reveal and discuss.

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In my opinion as retired network television news reporter who has covered riots and other citizen/police clashes, the new video of the 'lead up' to the second (brutal slam) video does not indicate anything but a confused boy trying to recover his footing after being assaulted by a burly police officer.

The local television voice over announcer was obviously trying to put a 'reverse spin' on the incident possiblly to offset their previous reporting of what was clearly and unwarranted assault against a citizen. I can tell you that local television channels depend on 'good relations' with area police so that they will not receive discrimination and lose out to the competition on 'important stories.' For them, the brutal assault on a diminutive young man was a briefly sensational 'throwaway' story. The real issue of police brutality is probably not on the television station's priority list.'

It is obvious from the television interview that the boy is not a political activist or troublemaker and would have been happy to make the whole thing go away. He had not sought out medical treatment, a gay rights organization or legal assistance. It was the media, social and public, that jumped in and made Jamie a double victim.

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Dude, what you say is reinforced by the almost overlooked Bryn Hutchinson incident. Jamie is by far the softer target. I'm interested to see further coverage on Bryn's case as he is evidently, a known activist, and therefore more likely to confront police allegations.

These two (separate) incidents were not the only ones on the night according to what I would call obscure references in some reports. At the moment it seems that there is an undertow of anti-gay elements in the community just waiting for an opportunity to bring the down the Mardi Gras celebration to a much less public celebration. The small minority of bigots will jump at any opportunity to denigrate the LGBT people and sully their acceptance in the main stream of our Australian culture. Polls indicate that more than 62% of Australians favour, or have no problem with same sex marriage, but our conservative politicians on both sides of politics seem reluctant to legislate the human rights equality laws needed. As we face coming elections, in which the right wing conservatives are favourites, it doesn't look like we will get those rights any time soon without some strong lobbying.

The ABC reports; "Hundreds of people have marched on New South Wales Police headquarters protesting about claims of officer violence at Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras."

There was evidently one arrest after the rally dispersed. ?

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