News & Views

Police Powers

Where does MALS sit with all these ‘anti-lockdown’ protests?

MALS understands that many people feel that the Chief Health Officer (CHO) directives such as mask-wearing, movement restrictions, business closures, and the current Stage 4 evening curfew represent unfair and unjustified infringements of their rights. For many people, these restrictions may be the first time they have experienced significant limitations upon their freedoms. For others, these restrictions may compound feelings of already being targeted by police. We understand that many people in Victoria are fearful and have concerns that these limitations on our basic freedoms might represent a growing authoritarianism. The use of the charge of ‘incitement’ against people organising or proposing any protest events as well as house raids and confiscations needs to be broadly condemned no matter where we stand.

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Protest, Repression, and the Law: A Right to Protest?

Writing to your MP, volunteering for a community group, or attending a protest are all types of basic civic engagement that are critical for a strong democracy. However, the ability of concerned citizens to engage in protest is increasingly being discouraged, if not repressed, by a range of legal techniques and political commentary. This is the first recording of a series of free virtual public panels and training sessions around the theme Protest, Repression and the Law that Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) will be running as part of Victorian Law Week 2020.

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Being Aware of Visible (and Invisible) Surveillance at Protests

Victoria Police has an arsenal of surveillance equipment and tactics that are regularly deployed against activists. In some cases, new equipment or tactics are trialled at simple demonstrations or marches for use in more rigorous situations later, such as direct actions or protest events. Other times, police surveillance has become a normalised part of life in modern society. Being aware of some of the visible and invisible surveillance that police particularly use against activists is a part of being able to endure in your activism, and is an important part of cultivating and sustaining a culture of resistance as a whole…

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Community Service Announcement: ‘Protests of Groups of 10’ permitted under latest COVID Directions in Victoria

Protests of groups of ten people are ‘permissible’ under the latest Victorian Stay at Home Directions (No.6). Under the new directions from the Chief Health Officer (CHO) (12 May 2020), Victorians are permitted to leave the house to visit friends or family, to meet in groups of ten outside, and to have up to five…

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A Tale of Two Cities

One pandemic. Two ways of policing protests. May 1 is International Workers’ Day, a day to demand fairer labour conditions and show solidarity across labour movements. Despite the pandemic, workers rallied around the world this May 1. Given the precarious economic times, gatherings in support of workers’ rights were likely all-the-more important this year. Although both…

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Know Your Rights: Victoria’s new ‘Move-on’ Laws

Police have always had powers to deal with protesters and picketers in different situations. Earlier this year, the Victorian Government gave police officers and Protective Services Officers (’PSOs’) some new powers for protest situations by expanding existing ‘move on’ powers. You may have heard this referred to as the ’Anti-Protest Laws’ or the ’Summary Offences Bill’. Whilst the new move on powers are undemocratic and can affect protesters and picketers, protesting in Victoria is not illegal.

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