Victoria Police removing protesters from Western Highway upgrade site


Victorian police have begun removing protesters trying to save trees in the path of the Western Highway upgrade.

The project to duplicate a section of the Western Highway has been underway for more than a decade and the route between Buangor and Ararat has been the subject of numerous legal battles.

Protesters told the ABC that police, including public order response teams, arrived at the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy’s camps near the Western Highway this morning and attempted to clear them out.

In a statement police confirmed an operation was underway.

“Police have a strong, dedicated presence along the Western Highway today as part of an operation to remove camps and protesters from restricted areas as highway construction work continues between Buangor and Ararat,” the statement read.

“General duties police are being supported by units from the Highway Patrol and specialist support units to ensure the safety of all people in the area.

“Victoria Police respects people’s right to protest peacefully and are there to ensure no breaches of the peace or antisocial behaviour occur as a result of protest action at the site.”

The ABC understands a number of protesters have been arrested in recent weeks, but police confirmed that no arrests took place today.

Police vehicles blocked the road entrances to the site, where a tree has been removed.(ABC Ballarat: Sarah Jane Bell)

Trees removed

A large fiddleback tree was removed from Hillside Road this morning.

Members of the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy told the ABC the tree was culturally significant, and was referred to as the “Directions Tree”.

But that particular tree was not identified as culturally significant by the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation.

Another tree referred to by the same name was identified in Federal Court proceedings and will not be removed.

People in high-vis clothing take down metal fences amongst trees.
The protesters’ campsite is being dismantled.(Supplied: Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy)

The ABC was unable to independently verify what took place between protesters and police today, or what trees were removed, as all entrances to the sites were blocked off by police.

Zellanach Djab Mara, from the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy, was at the site when police arrived.

“[There were] in excess of fifteen police cars,” he said.

“They quickly moved in — I’m very very unhappy and saddened by the actions.

A large felled tree in the back of a truck in the forest.
There has been some debate over whether a fiddleback tree that’s been removed was culturally significant.(Supplied: Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy)

Long-running battle

Since May 2018, protesters from the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy, including traditional owners, have been camped in the area to protect a number of trees they say are culturally significant.

The situation between the project opponents and police intensified over the past month as work recommenced on the new alignment of the road.

Protesters said machinery had been progressively moved along the new highway route.

Over the last few weeks, they said, they had delayed a number of works with their protest actions.

The design of the road was changed in 2019 to protect 15 culturally significant trees identified by the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation.

Workers in high-vis are seen walking amongst trees.
Works are continuing on the Western Highway upgrade between Buangor and Ararat.(Supplied: Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy)

In a statement, a Government spokesperson Aboriginal voices had been listened to “every step of the way”.

“The project’s design has been approved by both relevant traditional owner groups, an independent Environment Effects Statement process, the Supreme Court, the Federal Environment Minister and the Victorian Ombudsman,” the statement said.

Earlier this year, the Commonwealth Government rejected an application to protect a further six trees along the route for a second time.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley was required to reconsider the initial decision after a Federal Court ruling in December found a “legal error” in the assessment.

In a letter to the group’s lawyer in August, Ms Ley said she had again decided against the protection order.



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Delhi: Taken for questioning in car theft case, man dies in police custody


Written by Jignasa Sinha
| New Delhi |

October 26, 2020 4:26:42 am





The victim, Dharambir Prajapati.

An auto rickshaw driver who was being questioned in a car theft case died in police custody at Lodhi Colony police station on Sunday. Delhi Police has suspended ASI Vijay Kumar and sent two constables, Rajender and Sandeep, to police lines in connection with the matter.

Police said the man, Dharambir Prajapati (50), allegedly jumped from the first floor and committed suicide. He was immediately rushed to AIIMS but died during treatment. The family, however, alleged that the man was tortured. The cause of death has not been ascertained and a post-mortem report is awaited.

Police also said the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate was informed about the incident.Police said the ASI was suspended over lack of supervision. The two constables who brought Dharambir to the police station have also been sent to police lines pending enquiry.

According to police, Dharambir, who lived in Najafgarh with his family, was being interrogated by the ASI after a car was stolen from Lodhi Colony on Thursday. Police said CCTV footage near the spot of the theft revealed that the suspected car thieves reached Lodhi Colony in an autorickshaw.

“The autorickshaw was found to be registered in the name of Dharambir’s son, but he had rented out the vehicle. He told us that two men, Ghewar and Satish, were driving the auto. We arrested them in the case. The men told us they had given the auto to someone else,” DCP (South) Atul Kumar Thakur said.

On Saturday, ASI Kumar again interrogated Dharambir on the first floor of the police station around midnight. “At 2.45 am (Sunday), he went to the washroom, leaving the man alone in the room. When he came back, he didn’t find Dharambir inside. He was found lying on the floor in the central courtyard of the police station,” said DCP Thakur.

The family was informed about the death in the morning. They went to the police station and were told to go to AIIMS as Dharambir had sustained injuries to his leg and head.

On Sunday afternoon, Dharambir’s family and a few locals protested outside AIIMS, alleging he was thrashed by the policemen, who also asked for a bribe of Rs 50,000. Police tried to remove the protesters, who left after the body was returned to them.

Saurav (24), Dharambir’s son, alleged, “They came to our house on Saturday around 11 am and showed us a photo of our auto rickshaw. We told them we bought it a year ago but gave it to someone else to drive. They then took my father to the police station. We tried to contact him but his phone was switched off. At 7 pm, he called me and said the policemen were torturing him and asking for Rs 50,000. They tortured him for more than 12 hours.”

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Belarus protest: Police ‘fire stun grenades’ at demonstrators in Minsk


UK recalls ambassador to Belarus amid unrest



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Police release CCTV of man they wish to speak to in relation to a fire that broke out at Richmond Tiger Nick Vlastuin’s Torquay property


Police have released vision of a man they wish to speak to in relation to a suspicious fire at Richmond defender Nick Vlastuin’s coastal property.

Torquay Crime Investigation Unit police say the blaze occurred on Friday about 1.50am, with emergency services bringing it under control quickly.

Police wish to speak to this man in relation to the suspicious fire at Nick Vlastuin’s Torquay property. 

The vision released by police shows what appears to be a man in a cap, mask and a hoodie walking up to the front porch of the home with a jerry can, and then pouring its contents on the floor.

The man then stands back from the area that has been doused and leaves. Moments later, flames erupt.



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#EndSARS Protesters Shot By Nigerian Police


When Nigeria’s president made a rare, televised address to the nation on Thursday evening, he made vague references to “ongoing developments,” namely calling on “our youths to discontinue the street protests” — not mentioning once the fact that his security forces had killed people in the streets amid the country’s most powerful protests against police brutality ever.

What Muhammadu Buhari clearly didn’t want to mention was the Nigerian military opening fire on thousands of peaceful protesters Tuesday evening, killing at least 12 and injuring several hundred. Though he didn’t acknowledge the brutal suppression — the rest of the world has.

It’s being called the “Lekki massacre,” after the shootings took place at a toll bridge in that affluent suburb. It was there that protesters have demonstrated for the past two weeks as part of an ongoing movement calling for an overhaul of Nigeria’s notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS.

The violence has been condemned by world figures including Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres — but has also taken off on social media, with people using the hashtag #EndSARS to call for an end to the violence.

Buhari, in his address, scolded the protesters as “unpatriotic” and told people to “seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgment.” But the activists behind the End SARS social movement have for years been calling to disband a police unit that has been accused of extortion, kidnapping, harassment, torture, and extrajudicial killings — the demonstrators argue what they’re doing is the height of patriotism in Nigeria’s nascent democracy. Here’s a breakdown of how Nigeria got to this point, why the protests are happening, and who is involved:

The heroes!!! Some of them you might or might not even know! But they have stayed up all night to send a message to the world! I hope the message is loud and clear!!!!
We still dey!!! ALUTA CONTINUA 💪🏾

SARS was created in 1992 under military rule — before Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999 — to address armed robberies and kidnappings. Its officers were granted special privileges: They were allowed to use unmarked cars and wear plain clothes. Protesters say that SARS has operated with impunity, and a number of recent incidents have triggered outrage.

Policing by profiling is a common feature of the complaints against SARS. The unit’s remit to pursue robberies and fraud has meant that young Nigerians who seem “affluent” — owning an iPhone, for instance, or driving a nice car — are often considered to be criminals worth extorting for money. Police have also been known to target physical features such as dreadlocked or brightly colored hair, as well as tattoos as indicators of criminal affiliations.

Earlier this month, a clip in which SARS officials appeared to shoot a man and steal his car in broad daylight went viral, stirring a public outcry.

In response, a group of 42 young Nigerians staged a 72-hour protest outside the Lagos State House of Assembly starting on Oct. 8. That act of defiance quickly grew into the latest movement, with demonstrations happening across Africa’s most populated country. Outside Nigeria, members of the country’s diaspora have staged their own protests. In all, people have protested in over 100 cities around the world in solidarity and with a clear agenda: a better Nigeria starting with the end of SARS.

In response to mounting public pressure, Buhari formally dissolved SARS on Oct. 12, promising “extensive police reform.”

But Buhari’s announcement came with caveats: Former SARS officers will remain part of the police force, redeployed to other divisions. A new task force, SWAT, will replace SARS.

Many were deeply displeased with Buhari’s caveats, and so the protests continued, leading up to Tuesday’s violence.

On Tuesday morning, the governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced a last-minute statewide 24-hour curfew, saying he was concerned that “criminals and miscreants” had infiltrated the protests. There was no evidence to suggest this had actually happened.

The news broke just before noon on Twitter and gave Lagosians until 4 p.m. to get home — in a city renowned for its traffic. Many protesters who were already out stayed put at the Lekki toll gate, where they staged a sit-in and sang the national anthem while waving Nigerian flags.

According to eyewitness accounts reported by Reuters, CNN, and the BBC, the evening turned into chaos when the power was cut and uniformed personnel — now believed to be members of the Nigerian army — barricaded protesters at the toll gate and began firing live rounds.

Some protesters fled to churches and hospitals for the remainder of the night. Lagos-based DJ Switch, whose real name is Obianuju Udeh, livestreamed the chaos to 130,000 people.

The Nigerian Army denied any involvement in the incident, dismissing reports about it as “fake news” — a term popularized by US President Donald Trump and adopted by global autocrats and dictators to dismiss any factual information that is critical of their rule and policies.

After the shootings, the Lagos governor said that “forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history.” He claimed that there had been no deaths recorded, despite eyewitness accounts saying otherwise.

Human rights group Amnesty International has said that at least 12 people were killed between the Lekki area and Alausa, another Lagos suburb where there were reports of violence that night.

In a statement, the organization said it had received reports of CCTV cameras being disabled before the shooting took place. Some of the protesters killed on the ground were taken away by the military, Amnesty said.

Young Nigerians and What This Moment Means

More than 58 people are believed to have died since the protests began on Oct. 8 according to Amnesty International. In spite of the violence — and the terror of Tuesday night — the work on the ground continues, organizers and activists told BuzzFeed News.

“It has been a major roller coaster,” said an organizer, Oyin A, who declined to give her full name over fears of reprisal. “This is wrong. They didn’t do anything wrong. It was literally people just fighting for their rights.”

Oyin is one of the lead figures who helps to run the End SARS Response Unit, putting her experience in data solutions into action. The support resource group was created in a matter of days in collaboration with the Feminist Coalition, a collective of 11 young Nigerians whose mission is to champion equality for women in the country’s society. Today it operates a 24-hour hotline and online team for demonstrators to access everything from legal support to medical assistance in a nation where citizens are accustomed to providing life’s daily necessities for themselves.

Jimoh Raji Atanda 52, father to late jimoh isiaka holding a bullet shell recovered just beside the body of his late son.
Jimoh isiaka was shot multiple times by the police during #endsars peaceful protest in Ogbomoso on 10th of October 2020.
He call for justice for his late son.

Protesters continue to contact the group for support outside of the city, Oyin said, despite new curfews being announced daily.

“People were still like, ‘We want to do this. We want to protest,’” said Oyin. “We see the defiance in people and the way they were still so strong-willed about it.”

The youth-led movement has been hailed for coordinating in a transparent and unifying manner, which they hope will make it a lasting force. “Young people have seen for the very first time the strength that we have in our own unity and our voice,” Oyin said. “It’s the government’s biggest mistake but is also our biggest win, our biggest success.”

Unlike previous movements — such as the 2012 Occupy Nigeria campaign born in response to the removal of oil subsidies that resulted in 13 days of demonstrations — the End SARS movement is one without leaders, Oyin said.

This is in part to encourage democratic participation, and in part to ensure no one has a target on their back. But it also shows that every young Nigerian can make their own decision about whether and when to march.

“Today, I can decide I don’t want to protest anymore, but another person on the street might say, ‘Well, sorry, I have not heard anything that will make me go back home,’” Oyin said.

The fight against police brutality in Nigeria is multilayered and one that has unified most communities in a nation that has been strongly divided by tribal loyalties and conflict in the past.

However the same can’t be said for Nigeria’s young queer community, who say they are often profiled, targeted, and harassed by the police on the basis of sexuality.

Matthew Blaise, a nonbinary LGBTQ activist who was filmed in the midst of one of the protests, told BuzzFeed News he was using the moment to speak for queer young Nigerians. “It is something that we all know: When cis heterosexual people are telling stories, they tend to sideline queer people. They don’t tell our stories because queerness is not the default,” the 21-year-old said.

#EndSARS #Queerlivesmatter

Yell it in your streets. We get killed for being queer. It’s crazy

“Queer people are always targeted. We are always targeted for just existing,” Blaise said. “So I didn’t have to have a smartphone or look extravagant. I just have to exist as a queer person to be a target for SARS.”

Blaise’s experience with SARS has been defined by multiple painful altercations and has been further compounded by laws against homosexuality that deny him even the faintest potential of pursuing justice.

In Blaise’s case, as a femme nonbinary person, the harassment is driven by anti-LGBTQ sentiments, he said.

Blaise recalled one occasion when SARS officers ambushed him. “They asked me, Why am I behaving like a woman? Am I gay? Then they asked me to unlock my phone. I did not, then five of them came out from their van with guns, then pushed me into their vehicle.”

Blaise shared that after he was ambushed, he was driven to a police station where he was beaten.

His experience is just one in hundreds of chilling anecdotes that can be attributed to SARS. Activists have been collecting accounts of alleged SARS and other police violence and posting them online to websites such as EndSARS.com.

“We’re all so used to being stopped by the police. We’re all so used to being harassed by the police,” Michael Sonariwo told BuzzFeed News. “Every single person — I’m not exaggerating to you — all of my guys have a SARS story.”


Michael Sonariwo

Michael Sonariwo has been arrested more than five times by SARS operatives.

The 27-year-old event promoter who was raised in Atlanta relocated to Nigeria a decade ago and is taking part in the protests and using his platform to speak up. In the space of one year, he said, he was arrested more than five times.

Despite his frequent instances of harassment, Sonariwo is able to apply perspective and echoes the sentiments of most protesters who point to groups like SARS as symptomatic of deeper issues running through Nigeria: growing economic inequality and bad leadership.

“Some policemen are making 50,000 naira a month ($130),” Sonariwo said. “They’re supposed to support a family of two or three with that salary — some with 80,000 naira ($208) and support a family of three or four. So now they see young people with iPhones that cost 200,000 naira ($520). That’s more than their monthly salary, and the government treats them like animals. Have you seen their barracks? You treat people like animals long enough, they’ll act like it.”

Often hailed as the “giant of Africa,” in 2018 Nigeria overtook India to become the poverty capital of the world while simultaneously boasting about having Africa’s largest economy.

“We’re really fighting a big fight, a fight bigger than you all think, and that’s why I said everybody needs to just start talking, do anything possible,” said Sonariwo, who has issued a call to the diaspora around the world to continue to apply pressure and raise awareness.

“Do you realize how brave guys are to go on the streets with all this trauma, with all these experiences? On the streets, the government doesn’t care about you,” he said.

“There are people hurting on the streets, I’m privileged. I know where I’m coming from because I grew up in America. The life I lived in America is not the life I’ve lived in Nigeria,” he added.

The bravery of the Nigerians of all ages from various backgrounds who have taken to the streets to demand change has been a source of hope for many who had felt that the country was a lost cause.

“I used to be a ‘Nigeria can get better’ person, but I gave up,” said Karo Omu, who left Nigeria in 2016.


Demola Osuntoki

Karo Omu at the London demonstration calling for an end to police brutality in Nigeria.

“This is the first time I’m feeling like it could possibly get better again, after a long time.”

The 29-year-old has continued to engage with the country’s issues through her charitable organization that aims to eradicate child labor in Nigeria and as a member of the Feminist Coalition.

With a renewed sense of hope, Omu has helped organize demonstrations for the diaspora in London and believes that the root of Nigeria’s broader issues lies solely at the feet of the government.

“Whatever you think it is, it still comes back to the way Nigeria has been managed by the government and the way Nigeria has deteriorated over the years,” said Omu.

“It shows there’s just so many cracks in the structure of the country, the government of the country, and it’s not just this administration — it’s been this way for many years.

“Now there’s social media, you can see what’s better out there. You can see how much people care about their citizens. It doesn’t mean any country’s perfect, but there’s so much to do. From police reform to education to healthcare, and I think the lockdown also played a role because we were indoors. We’ve had enough time to think, and we’ve thought about what could be.”

The battle for what could be is one with young people at the forefront, a jolt to a culture that typically reveres age above all else.

“The youth are recognizing their power and it’s really beautiful to see, but what would be even more beautiful will be some change happening,” said Omu.





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Kyrgyz election body calls new presidential vote as police raid


BISHKEK Kyrgyz election officials on Saturday (Oct 24) announced presidential elections for Jan 10 even as police raided their offices, in what appeared to be a power struggle with the country’s acting leader.

The impoverished ex-Soviet state in Central Asia has been embroiled in political chaos since the unrest following the results of parliamentary elections held earlier this month. The Central Elections Committee (CEC) finally annulled them following mass protests.

Sadyr Japarov, a populist politician who had been serving a prison sentence for hostage-taking but who was released during the unrest, is now both acting president and prime minister.

Since Japarov, 51, took power he has promised fresh parliamentary and presidential elections – but only after making changes to the constitution.

He has also called for the elections commission to be disbanded and reformed, saying it was something the people had called for along with the recent resignation of former president Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

The law requires that presidential elections within three months of Jeenbekov’s departure.

But on Saturday morning, police raided the CEC headquarters as part of a probe launched by the interior ministry into alleged voting violations during the now-annulled October parliamentary elections.

CEC member Gulnara Djurabayeva denounced the raid as a form of “pressure on a constitutional body”, during an interview with local media.

CONSTITUTIONAL BATTLE

The results of the Oct 4 vote were cancelled after a protest led by losing parties against vote-buying and other violations escalated into violent clashes pitting protesters against police.

READ: Kyrgyzstan on edge of chaos after opposition storms government buildings

Earlier this week, lawmakers cancelled new parliamentary elections that the CEC had set for Dec 20 by suspending part of the constitution – a move some lawyers and politicians argued may not have been legal.

Japarov himself has proposed a number of changes to the constitution, arguing that citizens should be able to decide whether or not to revert to a presidential system from the current mixed system.

Before protesters freed him this month, the former lawmaker was serving a sentence for hostage-taking dating back to a 2013 incident during a rally for the nationalisation of a gold mine.

Map of Kyrgyzstan locating the capital Bishkek. (Map: AFP)

Russia, which has a military base in Kyrgyzstan and is a destination for hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz migrants, has expressed concern at the unrest there.

Kyrgyz foreign minister Ruslan Kazakbayev and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov held talks on Friday in the highest-level meeting between the two countries since Japarov became leader.

Japarov has not yet been endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who this week referred to an “unfortunate…seizure of power”. Putin also noted that Russia had done “a lot” to keep Kyrgyzstan “standing” through investments and financial aid.

Former president Jeenbekov is the third leader to step down amid political chaos in the ex-Soviet country since independence in 1991.



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Marcellis Stinnette: Protesters call for justice after black teenager fatally shot by police in Chicago suburb


Protesters have taken to the streets of Illinois urging authorities to open an investigation into the police killing of a black teenager last week.

The Waukegan Police Department said the shooting took place after an officer “was investigating an occupied vehicle” with two people inside at 11.55pm local time on Tuesday night.

The vehicle fled, but was then spotted by another officer. The second officer got out of his vehicle to investigate.

“While officer #2 was out of his vehicle, and approaching the suspect vehicle, it began to reverse. Officer #2 fired his semi-automatic pistol, in fear for his safety,” the police department said.

No weapons were found inside the vehicle, and it was not immediately clear why the vehicle had been stopped in the first place.

The fatally shot teenager was later identified as 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette, who was in the passenger seat. Tafara Williams – Mr Stinnette’s girlfriend and the mother of his child – was driving the vehicle. Ms Williams was injured in the shooting and taken to hospital.

Mr Stinnette’s mother, Tina Johnson, told reporters her daughter was pleading for her life as the incident unfolded.

“When I got there, she said, ‘Momma, they just shot us for nothing,'” Ms Johnson said. “My daughter said she put her hand up and if she didn’t put her hand up, she said ‘Momma, I would be dead.'”

The teen’s grandmother, Sherrellis Stinnette, called for the officer to be fired. “They were human beings. They deserved to live,” she said, according to CBS Chicago. “He left a baby behind – left five sisters and a mother and a father behind.”

Sherrellis Stinnette, the grandmother of 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette, was among the protesters demanding accountability.

Getty Images North America

Mayor Sam Cunningham told reporters he knows the families of both Mr Stinnette and Ms Williams and said he’s concerned about the impact the shooting will have on Waukegan.

“I’m a black man who grew up in that same neighbourhood. It could have been me,” Mr Cunningham said on Wednesday.

“I’m nervous because there’s a lot of uncertainty out there. There’s a lot of rumours flying around. We’re begging, whatever information you have, get it to us. Whatever footage that you have, get it to us.

“We’ve seen this play out throughout this country, but it just rips through communities.”

Rayon Edwards speaks to the crowd during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday.

Rayon Edwards speaks to the crowd during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday.

AAP

Protesters marched through the city on Thursday, calling for accountability from the shooting and demanding the Department of Justice oversee the investigation.

They’ve also pushed for dashcam and body camera footage from the officers to be released. 

Waukegan is located roughly 25 kilometres south of Kenosha, where Jacob Blake was shot several times at close range by Kenosha police on 23 August and is now paralysed.

Mr Blake’s shooting sparked renewed protests over racism and police brutality that had swept the United States since May following the death of another black man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.





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Security officer for SA Police wins court appeal for making ID card ‘for fun’ as part of training



A police paraphernalia collector and security officer for South Australian police has won a Supreme Court appeal against a guilty verdict for impersonating police after making an ID card “for fun” as part of training.

In July 2017, SA Police Protective Security Officer (PSO) Zhining Ma was charged with illegally possessing a police uniform and identification card. He pleaded not guilty but was found guilty of the offence by a magistrate.

He escaped conviction but was fined $500.

The “police uniform” was a short sleeved black shirt with SA Police markings.

Mr Ma appealed the guilty verdict to the Full Court of the Supreme Court and Justice David Peek overturned the magistrate’s decision, finding the card and the shirt did not amount to “police property” under state law.

“[He] is a man of good character with no previous criminal finding or conviction.

“Since 2013, he has been employed as a Protective Security Officer (PSO). He is not a police officer.

“But the Commissioner of Police is responsible for the control and management of PSOs under the Protective Security Act. The duties of a PSO are various, but include the maintenance of the security of public buildings, places and officials.”

The PSO was told to keep the ID ‘for fun’

The court was told that as part of his role as a PSO, Mr Ma was required to learn the software to make police identification cards for both police officers and fellow PSOs and created a card with his name on it, stating he was a police officer.

“Ma readily agreed that he had made that card, but explained that it was a test card made for the purpose of learning to use the system under the tuition of [another PSO],” Justice Peek said.

In relation to the police shirt, Mr Ma told the court that he took a bunch of old shirts from a donation bin and “believed that only old, not current, uniforms were disposed of”.

During his interview, he claimed he was not aware of that until all of the clothes were pulled out during the search.

Appeal judge says officer was ‘respectful’

Justice Peek said it would be “harsh and unreasonable in many situations for someone to have to point to a law authorising their possession of a part of police uniform, such as a dry cleaner who launders police uniforms, or a tailor who mends it”.

“[Mr Ma] is clearly an avid collector of police paraphernalia and the magistrate specifically found on sentencing that he ‘retained both of these items effectively as a souvenir, a keepsake and that there was no other more nefarious purpose for keeping those items and I accept that you are unlikely to commit the offence again’.”

Justice Peek said Mr Ma represented himself during the appeal and behaved “respectfully and courteously”.

“Despite his lack of legal training, and the fact that English is not his first language, he has made pertinent submissions as to the law,” he said.



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Police arrest demonstrators at Melbourne protest against Victoria’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions


Hundreds of protesters calling for an end to Victoria’s coronavirus lockdown have clashed with police in Melbourne.

Police used pepper spray during scuffles with some of the demonstrators — many of whom refused to wear masks — at the Shrine of Remembrance.

Police arrested 16 people and issued 96 penalty notices for offences including not wearing a mask, breaching public gathering directions, travelling more than 25 kilometres from home, assaulting police and failing to state their name and address.

“Victoria Police was extremely disappointed to yet again arrest a large number of protestors who showed a complete disregard for the safety of the broader community and the directions of the Chief Health Officer (CHO),” police said in a statement.

Many of the demonstrators were not wearing face masks.(AAP: James Ross)

Police describe protesters as ‘selfish’

Police said they were investigating an incident where several police horses were hit in the face with a flagpole by a man.

“Thankfully the horses were not injured during the assaults,” the police statement said.

Officers are also investigating damage to a police van after it was pelted with items thrown by protesters.

Three police officers were injured, with one taken to hospital as a precaution.

“Victoria Police will not accept the selfish behaviour of those who continue to breach the CHO directions,” the police statement said.

An aerial image shows police surrounding demonstrators at an anti-lockdown protest at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.
Police surrounded demonstrators at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance.(ABC News)

About 200 to 300 people were estimated to have attended the rally, making it one of the larger events of its kind over the past few months against Premier Daniel Andrews’s tough measures to control COVID-19 infections.

Protesters in the Shrine forecourt held placards with slogans such as “media is the virus”, “COVID-19 is a scam” and “wake up Aussies”.

Some were wearing t-shirts that said “let Victoria work”.

Many people pulled their face masks under their chin or were not wearing them at all.

Officers surrounded the protesters on foot, with more forming an outer wall, and many were on horseback.

Protesters could face two separate fines for attending the rally at the Shrine of Remembrance.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius warned that protesters could fall foul of legislation governing behaviour at the Shrine.

A group of masked police officers scuffle with a man who is on the ground.
Police have made several arrests.(AAP: James Ross)

While some lockdown rules have been eased this week, Melburnians can still travel no more than 25 kms from their homes and are not permitted to have visitors to their home, except for permitted reasons.

They also can be fined if they gather in groups of more than 10 from more than two households, and must wear masks as well as social distance.

Premier calls protesters ‘selfish’

Earlier, when asked about the demonstration at his daily press conference, the Premier said the protest was unhelpful.

“Protests are not safe. Protests are selfish,” Mr Andrews said.

“Protests are potentially very dangerous to the strategy we have in place.

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Speaking before the protest, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the Shrine was no place for demonstrations.

“We want to get the place open and make announcements on Sunday, and if people are out protesting, that does not help.

“I think common decency would see people only go to the Shrine when they wanted to remember and to appropriately commemorate the sacrifice of hundred of thousands of others.

That is what the Shrine is about — it is not about making political points one way or the other.”

Three men with face masks below their chins stand in a crowd.
Protesters chanted slogans including “free Victoria”.(AAP: James Ross)

There were scuffles and several arrests last month as police broke up a protest at the Shrine.

A website for the protest tells participants: “Daniel Andrews must resign and lockdowns must end. Restore our freedoms now.”

AAP/ABC

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Police arrest anti-lockdown demonstrators at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance.



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