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Where the CHOGM did my right to demonstrate go?

My notoriety didn’t get me onto the  50 most wanted list for CHOGM. Shame on me. Some of the CHOGM 50 are people with standing, people who have worked hard to be heard and people who have taken personal risks. What kind of activist do I think I am? I think I am a non-violent one. By the standard set by the thousand plus demonstrators in Perth on Friday,  I think many are. So what kind of activist do the State and the people of Western Australia think are out there, roaming the streets, waiting for an opportunity to be unlawful, untidy, uncivilized and generally unpleasant?  People not like us, people who do things that ‘we’ don’t do, “those dickheads causing a fuss over there”?

Take a moment to consider a time when you have been pushed, felt unfairly treated, suffered from being excluded, been the subject of shame, ridicule, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Or maybe just seen or heard something that made you really, really angry. Take it one step further and you are asking for something to be done about it so it doesn’t happen again. Take it another step further and you are being punished for asking. Take it one step further and you are on the street demonstrating.

So yeah, I was there, with friends, we made a day of it. You know, breakfast followed by heartfelt speeches about the future of the planet, the dignity of human life, the desperate struggle for equal rights, pleas to stand against oppression, genocide and tyranny. Then an easy ramble of 1000 people moving peacefully along Hay Street, seamlessly flowing around police, spectators and small children and not disturbing a single bit of peace on the way. Then a little sit in, just the 1000 of us because the riot squad, the mounted police and the intelligence gatherers needed to confer about security, order, safety of the citizenry, protection of important commonwealth things. That’s ok, we waited. I read a couple of signs while sitting on the intersection of Hay and William streets amongst hundred year old chewing gum splotches and oil stains. ‘Sorry for the inconvenience, I’m just trying to change the world here’, ‘Occupy Patriarchy’, ‘Justice for Rex’, ‘Unfuck the world’.

The moments that pass between people make me smile. My friend Rose goes off to buy old Uncle Ben some water as he has been standing in the sun in his suit for hours and she gets the kids some chips for good measure. An older woman starts to cry with the raw emotion of it all and a man moves over to put an arm around her. A little boy walks beside his Mum who is 7 months pregnant holding up the ‘No more deaths in custody’ banner and the protest Marshall stands on my foot in his hurry to help someone and turns with a quick smile….. ‘So sorry Love’….. Activists.  Just a bunch of dickheads really.

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