Early on Saturday afternoon this week, as I was exercising my rights to freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom of association in the central city march of the weekly freedom demonstrations in Melbourne, one or more than one police officer attempted to drag me away from behind but I initially held my ground.
I wanted to continue chanting “Freedom! Freedom!” and tried to hold my megaphone up as best I could against their pressure so that I wouldn’t blast out anyone’s eardrums. I didn’t chant because I could not hold the megaphone up high enough.
I couldn’t even hold myself up and collapsed to the ground under the pressure of police hands.
I am 64 years old. They or he were/was too young and too strong.
Almost immediately a wall of protestors rushed in and helped me up and I knew I was safe.
Later on that night a witness to my collapse told me that there was one police officer with malevolence for me in his eyes but that the rest were appalled and frightened by what was happening and pulled him into line.
As far as I knew at the time I had been assaulted by police.
I took every opportunity I could for the rest of the march to tell people that I was there against this sort of police state shit.
l said that my paternal grandfather, theologian Professor A C Fox, was an early opponent in Australia of Hitler’s mistreatment of the Jewish people.
My other grandfather, the Right Reverend J R Blanchard, was a strong public supporter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights.
My father “Rick” Fox faced Japanese bullets on the beach at Balikpapan in 1945 for freedom.
Standing up and speaking up for freedom is a patrimony for me.
In mid afternoon, still very angry, I attempted to report the assault to a police officer, pictured above, who appeared to have a role in liaising with protestors. She was juggling a few things at the time including pulling up her face mask.
I was not satisfied that she had taken my complaint seriously and I became very vocally angry at her and others.
I feel the need to acknowledge that she probably or possibly did not deserve to be the butt of my anger. I am not apologetic because the only healthy thing to do with anger at the growing police state oppression in Australia is to express the anger and to denounce the oppressions.
Complaints against the police in Victoria are rarely investigated and when police here commit crimes they are not subject to the rule of law like everyone else. Their crimes are treated as professional standards matters and dealt with is secret.
Making a mistake by being rude to one police officer is better than blind conformity to the sickness of silence. (I borrow this idea from iconic poet activist Wiki Thukul of Java. His Indonesian language phrase was penyakit kebisuan.)
I do not know at all times what is in the hearts of individual police officers. Sometimes you can read it in their faces, eyes and voices. Often it is good. But sometimes it is evil.
Far too many sheep are not speaking up in Australia as freedoms disappear. Both inside and outside the police force.
Not all freedom has been destroyed. But the trends in that direction are appalling.
As my friend Rebekah Spelman says, “Freedom is everything.”
And speaking up for that is the most important thing in life for me.
The good cops must support that and bring the bad ones to justice.
Geoff Fox, 28th March, 2022, well and truly Down Under