Monday, September 10, 2007

APEC policing and the tourist industry

Some years ago I was photographing a demonstration in Sydney. I cut through some back streets to get to the head of the demo and was surprised to come across a number of buses packed with police with riot gear at the ready. It was quite a hot day and the buses were not air conditioned. The occupants of these buses were mostly young and not looking happy.

It occurred to me at the time that if they had have been let loose on the protesters they would be ready to take out their frustrations for being cooped up for so long. Fortunately this protest was peaceful – noisy but peaceful.

I was reminded of this incident while watching news reports in the build up to APEC and I wondered just how the police would react to protesters after being pumped up by all the chest thumping by the politicians in the lead up.

So I read with interest comments by Dr Michael Kennedy, a former detective who teaches policing at the University of Western Sydney, who said politicians, not frontline police, should take the blame for any overreaction. "Young coppers who are pumped up and told to do their job are doing their job" he stated.

Certainly the police had to be prepared for trouble after the debacle in Melbourne last year (footage of which the media kept playing over and over again which helped reinforce the police/political position) but the APEC fence has now been proven to be incredibly over the top.

One would have to consider that the man arrested for throwing a dart at police and brandishing a steel bar rolled in a newspaper is nothing but a common thug who took advantage of the situation to play out his hatred of police. This was nothing to do with the protest nor with APEC and if the police intelligence was as good as they claimed why was this person, who is well known to police, not spotted and dealt with before he caused harm.

Re the police removing their nametags, the Police commissioner claimed that "The indications that I've got is that there are times when protesters have used these things in the past (as a weapon), and I would be horrified if police didn't take the right actions to protect themselves." The line-up of nameless police in the SMH shows them all wearing overalls – the nametags they should be wearing are made of cloth with a velcro backing – some weapon!

The bottom line is that the media images that were sent around the world were supposed to enhance Sydney’s reputation as a business tourism destination, but it would appear that the images that went out were of the fence, the police operation and the inconvenience caused by the whole shebang. Oh, and The Chaser of course.

So just how did it look to you?

Relevant media links

Fences, foes and farces: world view of APEC

With 21 leaders arriving for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the world's media already had one eye on Sydney this week.

Prison language describes a city

It is all very well for those who have escaped, but it has been a trying time for the rest, writes John Huxley.

Close encounter with cell on wheels

CITY office worker Tom Godfrey had a close encounter with one of the buses the Government has converted into mobile prison cells for protesters arrested during this week's meeting of world leaders.

APEC's surprise guest - Mr bin Laden of Canada

IF ONLY the police had stopped to read the fine print on the "APEC 2007 Official Vehicle" sticker.

APEC pranksters say police gave them permission

The Chaser pranksters charged for breaching APEC security with a bogus motorcade that came close to George Bush's hotel say police gave them permission.

APEC dents Sydney's tourism image

Australia's tourism industry has slammed the image that Sydney's APEC summit has sent to the world.

Harsh security 'hurt business'

Sydney CBD restaurants and retailers say the "police state" security measures of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit hurt their businesses badly over the APEC long weekend.

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