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Chain up Cheney! Bring Hicks home!
Sydney anti-war marchers defy police ban and reclaim the streets

A Possum News Network Exclusive
Words and pictures by Gavin Gatenby

Thursday 22 February 2007

This evening 1500 anti-war demonstrators overcame a strong police presence and, after a half-hour confrontation with the NSW riot squad and mounted police marched to the US Consulate to protest against US Vice-President Dick Cheney's visit to Australia and the five-year imprisonment of David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay.

An unexpected last-minute ban by NSW Police (no doubt at the instigation of the NSW Labor Government) turned what would have been a routine demonstration into a major test of the right to march.

The demonstrators prevailed after hundreds filtered through the police cordon around Town Hall Square. The remaining demonstrators bottled up in the square then voted to disperse and move in small groups to the US Consulate in Martin Place. Faced with the impossibility pursuing hundreds of small groups of demonstrators through Thursday night shopping crowds, the police relented and allowed the demonstration to proceed to the US Consulate.

1500 demonstrators assembled at Town Hall Square from 5.30 pm onwards.
It was obvious the police were determined to enforce the no-march ban.

The demonstrators voted to march and pressed on the police line across a narrow front. Before long scuffles broke out. Note the policeman in the rear with a video camera on a pole.
Little-by-little, demonstrators outflanked the police and mingled with the huge media contingent in the rear of the main police line.
An attempt was made to sweep the infiltrators away with a shoulder-to-shoulder line of mounted officers, but this failed.
There were about 10 arrests.
The demonstrators chanted "Shame! Shame! Shame!" and "The whole world is watching!" It was obvious the police were not particularly enthusiastic about the task.

Demostrators confronted individual policemen about their right to protest against Cheney's visit. In spite of the tension and a lot of pushing and shoving, both sides stayed pretty cool.
And then, suddenly, it was over. When the demonstrators voted to split up and head for the US Consulate in small groups the police rapidly decided it would be safer to compromise. The march was allowed to proceed down George Street along the footpath, after which there were no further incidents.
The march passes the Queen Victoria Building making a big impact on Thursday night shopping crowds.

The final triumphant rally outside the US Consulate in Martin Plaza.

PLEASE feel free to use these images, but if you do so, please credit Possum News Network and link to this page. High-resolution versions of these and other images of the event available on request.

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