People in Melbourne joined in world-wide expressions of outrage at the police killing of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos with a rally outside the Greek Consulate-General. The protest was lent an added dimension by the police killing of another 15-year-old in the innner-Melbourne suburb of Northcote only two nights previously.
Speakers at the rally drew parallels also with the case of Lex Wotton on Palm Island, sentenced to six years imprisonment for allegedly leading a riot following the death in custody of an Aboriginal man, whose police killer went on to receive a promotion.
As part of the event people were invited to add messages to a board addressed to comrades in Greece.
The rally took place in foul weather, which had an effect especially on the quality of the sound in this video.
One speaker read from a statement issued in Greece: ‘Communique of Occupied School of Theatre in Thessaloniki’. The document can be found here.
*A fun(d)-raising disco for Lex Wotton & Family was held on Saturday night at the International Workers’ Club (home to Barricade Infoshop and a number of other @ groups and projects). Something like $500 was raised, and a number of local @ groups are making further donations. These funds will be deposited in a bank account at Melbourne University Credit Union, and others are encouraged to also donate.
- Melbourne University Credit Union Limited
Account name: Free Lex Wotton
A/C number: 13441
What will this money be used for?
This money will be used for supporting both Lex and his family until he is free. This includes things such as money for Lex to make phone calls, write letters etc (all these things like phone cards and stamps and envelopes must be paid for in prison), money for his family to visit him in Townsville in the prison (the family live on Palm Island and will need money for travel and accommodation in Townsville), etc. These are the immediate needs that will be prioritised. All spending from this account will be with the permission and direction of Lex and his family. If everyone contributed a little (or a lot!), Lex would be able to do everything he needs to properly organise his appeal, and to keep up that all-important contact with his family, including his four children, his wife, his sisters, his mother. He gets strength from them, and we can give them strength by making sure they don’t need to go hungry to finance their visits to Lex…
*Messages of support can be sent to Lex via freelexwotton[at]gmail[dot]com.
*Over 3,000 people have joined the Free Lex Wotton NOW Facebook group. You can too!
Cam Smith (Crikey, December 15, 2008) writes:
Teenage deaths in Athens and Melbourne: A comparison
“Police murdered a 15 year-old kid in Northcote last night,” read the text message, “Come to Northcote police station. Crew heading there now. Demand justice. F–k the bastards.” In the carpark outside the police station, a group of young radical types stood in a huddle, discussing the events of the previous night. Spread throughout the carpark, the media were identifiable by their obscure gang patches, 7, 9, 10.
“Do you think it’ll go Greek?” one anarchist asked me. “I don’t think so,” I replied, “This is Northcote, not Exarchia.”
And yet, despite my pithy response in the damp patch of ashphalt between Northcote Plaza and All Nations Park, the question persisted throughout the day — on radio, on blogs, on the newspaper websites… even my mum asked me: Why does nobody listen to me?
The similarity was striking, I suppose. Only five days after Athenian police had gunned down a 15-year-old boy, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, police in the third-largest Greek city in the world had shot dead another 15-year-old boy, Tyler Cassidy. The key is in the contrast:
* In Northcote, the police [claim to have] had no choice.
* In Athens, eyewitnesses describe the police initiating conflict by provoking the youths.
* In Northcote, the police tried to negotiate, before turning to capsicum foam, then resorting to their sidearms.
* In Athens, eyewitnesses describe the police officer who fired the shots as having exposed his genitals just prior to executing Alexandros.
* In Athens, the police officer was a member of a neo-Nazi gang.
There is contrast in the response too: While anarchists in Greece reported on goings-on there in an almost poetic manner, on 4Chan, Anonymous amused itself by photoshopping pictures of knives into Cassidy’s hands and bombarding a tribute MySpace with abuse (it has since been taken down).
While Greece burned, hundreds of people around the world expressed solidarity (some then had riots of their own). In Melbourne, Cassidy was mentioned at a solidarity vigil attended by 30 well-soaked bleeding hearts outside the Greek consulate on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, two dodgy looking blokes in a car tried to organise a rally outside the Northcote police station. Nobody showed up.
Cassidy’s juvenile politics makes him easy to hate, but while the Southern Cross Soldiers are a bit of a nasty bunch, being a d-ckhead is not yet a capital crime. Alexandros Grigoropoulos’ death will be long remembered for the actions it initiated.
Cassidy’s death will fall down the memory hole — a stupid, messed-up kid on a suicide mission. He deserves better — he should be remembered as the kid whose death prompted increased funding to Crisis Assessment Teams and improvements to police training. He should be remembered as the last needless police death in Victoria. He won’t be, but he should.