A little bit of context
In November last year, asylum seekers on Manus Island staged an ongoing protest to demand their freedom from the island and to be brought to safety. Several weeks into their protests, security and police on Manus Island raided the camp and savagely attacked those inside.
Protests broke out in many major cities in Australia, demanding freedom for the refugees and that they be brought to Australia for immediate processing and settlement. In Brisbane, the Refugee Action Collective organised a protest at short notice, and despite only with a few days to organise, gathered hundreds of people in King George Square on a Friday night.
But there’s a problem
With little notice, police were not prepared to facilitate a march on the roads, and so the collective took the crowd on a peaceful march into Queen st Mall, where we gathered for 15 minutes, chanting and hearing speeches, before returning.
The mall is public space, and yet the Brisbane City Council has a new set of laws (Public Land and Council Assets Local Law 2014) that grant them to power to issue massive fines against a series of activities in the mall, primarily targeting peaceful protest.
Tim Arnot, a member of the Refugee Action Collective and the person who facilitated the march and rally on the night, received a fine from the Brisbane City Council for using a megaphone in the mall to facilitate the rally.
Here’s what we’re doing about it
We've exhausted our avenues to have this investigated without going to court, and our legal advice suggests that it will be very difficult to challenge it in court. So first up, we have to pay the fine - $630.
Additionally, we are setting up a petition for freedom of speech in the mall, and to call for an end to the PLACA Local Law 2014 which restricts use of the mall for community actions such as peaceful demonstrations. As more public space disappears through development in our CBD, we have to make a stand! Sign our petition here: https://www.change.org/p/lord-mayor-graham-quirk-demand-free-speech-in-brisbane-cbd
You can join us
Please donate to help us cover the fine. We are a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organisation and any of our funding is all based on donations.
Please also sign our petition! The link is above, and you'll also be able to find it on our stalls.
Please also join us at our next protest! We will not stop fighting for the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum, and so our next rally will be Sunday 25th March at 1pm in King George Square.
Hope to see you there!
Thank you for your support and dedication, and we'll see you at the next rally!