The Day Australia Changed Forever.
This is an extract from the upcoming book Convoy to Canberra: The Day Australia Changed Forever.
This is Chapter Five. The book will be available in the coming weeks. The series so far can be accessed at the bottom of this piece.
Day three was a cooler day, but only weather wise, Matthew Gray of Café Lockdown wrote.
Every hour the police entered the campsite in Canberra’s parliamentary zone and did a walk through. All of them were masked up and initially polite. As they passed through the growing camp they were surrounded by protesters, who were trying to convince the officers to come over to our side.
“These were angry people. People who had driven here from all over the land in a search of simple things: The right to work, the right to socialise, and the right to choose what went into their bodies.
“It was initially agreed upon that these walk throughs would happen every hour, but since there was no designated leader in the camp there was several schools of thought regarding this. Some wanted the police to stay out, others wanted them to be allowed to do their walk through only twice a day, while others, who felt we had nothing to hide, and needed to find a way to convince to police to join us, were happy for them to wander through.
“Matt Lawson, the Melbourne man who was shot in the stomach at close range by a rubber was filmed having a calm yet persuasive conversation with a policeman. The young officer admitted that he agreed with all of Matt’s points; everything from the disgraceful erosion of individual liberties to the questionable efficacy of the government peddled vaccines.
“But one sympathetic young cop wouldn’t be enough to stop the escalation of tension.
Within an hour the police had change their tactics. Now they not only wanted to walk through when they wanted to, but began to block the main entrance. Whilst they let our cars out, they were not letting these people back in. They also began telling protestors that they were illegally camping, or trespassing.
But as the tension continued to rise near the main entrance, where more and more police were arriving, the rear of the camp was open.
“I went there with a few others to wait. It didn’t take long. Suddenly, four unmarked, four wheel drives with darkened glass, pulled up in a line and with their engines running, they sat in a line like a modern day cavalry charge waiting for their order to order to charge.
“I live streamed this, and with my good friend, the photographer Daniel, a Mauri in his late sixties, we sat on the grass before them. Soon other freedom seekers, for the word fighters is wrong, sat next to us.
“We believed that despite the clear intimidation that they wouldn’t run us over. This was Australia.
“But then two of these four wheel drives reversed before driving off, at speed into the camp, past young children who were playing cricket, and as they did this officers from a tactical branch, burst out of these remaining four wheel drives and ran into the camp.
“We followed these men.
“By the time we reached the centre of the camp it was all a mess.
“The police were kettling themselves, as their colleagues were arresting someone, and the freedom seekers were surrounding these officers, our hands in the air, to show the world that we were unarmed, and all of us were chanting, ‘You serve us, You serve us’.”
The rest, as Michael Griffith puts it, was a shit-fest.
Perhaps some could argue that police were trying to do their job; but every war, including a war conducted by politicians against their own people, needs infantry. If everybody had just said no, if every officer in uniform had refused to pick up the cudgels, the guns, the pepper spray, the fists and truncheons and bullets, had refused to bash, fine and imprison their fellow Australians, it would have all ended before it had even started, two long destructive years before.
The same police brutality Australians had seen time and time again on the streets of the nation’s capitals, from the true psychopathology on Melbourne’s streets to the military manning the streets of the western suburbs of Sydney while army helicopters and surveillance drones flew overhead, from police pepper spraying children in the suburbs of Brisbane to the utterly outrageous rounding up of indigenous peoples from their sacred homelands in Central Australia; all that had proved a national disgrace and international embarrassment for two long years, all of it was now in the nation’s capital.
And all of it was being streamed multiple times by anyone with a smartphone; adding to the layers of shame that had accreted across the national psyche.
As Gray records: “Instead of spreading fear, these officers were met by old people who had come here, from all over the country because they were over the fear.
“And this, for our side, was a victory, for all of us had our phones out and were live streaming everything. And whilst people at home would try to find a way to exonerate the tactics of the police, the visuals of how these police officers were treating us, brutalising our old would speak not only a new truth, but a shameful truth.”
Heart wrenching footage emerged from the conflagration.
This is Australia? People were asking, and their voices were the voices of the broken hearted. This is Australia?
Gray continued: “One man hugged me because I was crying. He was crying too. Lots of people were. And not from the pepper spray or the fear. But from disbelief that these police officers, who should be our heroes, were now our oppressors.
“They were here to try to move us on because their masters knew lots more people were coming. Lots more. And they wanted the head of the forming snake cut off.
“These officers weren’t protecting the public, they were, instead being used by the politicians to try and crush what we were.
“And over these few days, many of these officers have told us they are on our side, although that is hard to see sometimes.
“And their masters should be scared, for what we are is the counterbalance. These officers are doing this for a pay packet, while we have nothing to lose, because apart from our souls, it has all been taken away.”
While authorities in Canberra tried to disband the burgeoning campsites around the city, multiple mini-convoys were still threading their way to the Australian Capital Territory along the highways and byways of the nation.
By now the ignition switch had been pressed, the fire lit, the contagion of wildly enthusiastic Convoy participants were being swept up in one of the most extraordinary events any of them were ever likely to experience; whatever cliché you wished to grasp for, none could suffice.
Multiple streamers, bloggers and independent news sites documented the gathering wave; the shouting, the waving, the tooting horns, the blaring trucks, the glory of it all.
Photographer John Napper, on his way down from the Gold Coast, recorded: “The wet roads have not dampened the spirits of the second convoy wave headed to Canberra from Queensland. I have not experienced such a positive, friendly and supportive mood on a driving trip around Australia ever!
“The Commonwealth Games had a tremendous atmosphere and friendly banter but this is something different. It’s more than just a celebration of an event. It’s a journey of hope. The delight and comfort in knowing there are so many others on this journey. Others who feel like you do. They aren’t strange.
“They yell support, they honk horns, they wave flags, and they stop and lend a hand to those stopped on the roadside.
“These people are giving life and hope to people who have been locked up, isolated, beaten down and treated as lesser citizens.
“The mood is changing. You can feel it. You can see it in the eyes of those in the convoy. You can certainly hear it; the hearts being kick-started and a throbbing of expectancy.
“I don’t know what the days ahead will hold but if this gathering of souls on the road to Canberra is any indication this is the birth of something very special.
“History is being made.”
Reporting from Ground Zero, so to speak, Matthew Gray wrote: “I have been saying for a while, that we all been surfing an incoming wave of tyranny, well what we are now is the first rise of another wave, a growing tsunami of people, Australian’s wanting what people all over the world crave, freedom.
“Even as I write this, people are coming up to me and introducing themselves. They have come from everywhere. Two women who just arrived had driven down from Townsville. Two days of solid driving.
“This park is the line in the sand. You can feel it. We all can.
“Will we be the agents of change? Will our wave wash away their tyranny? Or will we be the last stand of everything that was beloved about our country? A fort crushed by officers trying to pay their mortgages; officers who, if that happens, will have to try to live in a house built upon and haunted by our ghosts.”
I lost my job in disability support because I won’t get vaccinated but before I did I witnessed the company manipulating clients that could speak by telling them they wouldn’t be able to go anywhere or socialise with others and also the ones with no voice were just given the jab, it was bloody heart breaking.
Janice Johnston. Source Café Lockdown.
My son’s story: Wish you had of gone into one of the surf clubs and asked them about mandates on their volunteers. Our 16 year old son forced to say goodbye to something he has been so passionate about. Last year Cameron received awards for Junior Lifesaver of the year also accumulated almost 300 hrs volunteering in 1 season. All his life I have taught him to make the right choices in life and you will be ok. Now he makes a choice to not put a trial drug in his body and he is punished for it. All he wants to do is serve his community, keep them safe
I’m so proud of him.
Shame on you NSW Surf Life Saving For Not standing up for your volunteers.
How do we explain the logic to our kids that they can sit in a classroom with in Cameron’s case 100 students but he can’t be on the beach serving his community? Kylie Buxton. Source Café Lockdown.
With the government in election mode and the extreme discontent of the public on full display, the Convoy to Canberra became the biggest story in the country. By Day Three there were escalating confrontations; and the by now familiar scene in Australia of police gathering en masse to disband protestors.
“God help you, pieces of shit,” one protestor yells at police as the pepper spraying, brutality and arrests began all over again.
One piece of footage shows two policemen, moving in on protestors, jubilantly clinking their pepper spray cans together as if they were beers; a collapse of moral authority within the police forces of which the many senior police quitting their posts had been warning for months.
This is what Australia had descended to. Nothing could have been more emblematic of this disgusting period of governance gone awry; of the tragedy which had consumed the nation, making it unrecognisable from the country it was only two years before.
Three people were arrested that third day, after officers, who had been patrolling the area all day, went to the campsite at the National Library of Australia at around 4pm to provide written information to demonstrators that they were parking and camping illegally, and might be fined if they remained.
Footage shows some 100 police massing for the confrontation.
A woman was charged with assaulting the police and two men were charged with obstruction for interfering in the woman’s arrest.
Observers reported that the violent scenes which erupted around the campsite were as a direct result of the antagonising presence of the police; not of the protestors, who were almost universally peaceful.
It didn’t matter what the authorities, the henchmen of the nation’s politicians, did; people kept arriving on foot, by train, bus and plane, the cars, the trucks, the caravans, the convoys large and small just kept pouring in. Australians had had more than enough.