June 22, 2022

Police ‘surrounded’ by activists at NSW camp | Western magazine

A number of people are set to be charged after Sydney Police tried to disrupt what they say were illegal climate change protests.

Officers were investigating around a property in Colo Valley on Sunday when their vehicle was surrounded by a group that pushed them and dropped tires, Detective Superintendent Paul Dunstan said.

Police, attached to Strike Force Guard, were approached by a number of people who proceeded to surround them as they walked towards the vehicle, he said.

“They pushed, shoved, shoved the police officers before they managed to get into the vehicle, at which point a group of people began to damage the vehicle, deflate the tires and prevent the vehicle from leaving the area” said Superintendent Dunstan.

“The police luckily managed to leave the area after a fight and some time ensued.”

Superintendent Dunstan said the force would not tolerate officers being mistreated under any circumstances.

“The police officers who were attacked by this group this morning feared for their lives,” he said.

“They called for urgent help and police across the Sydney metropolitan area responded to assist and provide assistance.”

Police said earlier the officers were assisted by specialist units including PolAir, the canine unit, the riot squad and police rescue.

The operation was carried out in a camp occupied by members of the climate activist group Blockade Australia.

Zelda Grimshaw, a climate activist linked to Blockade Australia, told AAP the group was non-violent.

“I don’t believe anyone would have committed an act of violence,” said Ms Grimshaw, absent from the site.

“I heard that two groups of heavily armed men in camouflage had been found in the hills around the property, so it was very alarming,” she said.

“One of the groups was asked to leave by people camping on the property, which may well translate to what police are describing.”

Ms Grimshaw said around 100 police descended on the property.

She said five people were arrested and everyone on the property was detained.

The group included a 19-year-old teacher and a 92-year-old retired teacher, Ms Grimshaw said.

Officers were in the area after receiving reports that a group of around 30 to 40 people were gathering to prepare for upcoming protests, Superintendent Dunstan said.

Police intended to investigate the property, but the activity pushed their plans forward.

“We believe the group was behaving, planning and preparing to carry out the extreme forms of protest that this group had carried out before,” he said.

“Practicing, rehearsing and constructing objects to carry out protest methods similar to what they carried out during the protest activity on the march, where you saw in Port Botany, elaborate objects formed and used and placed in the middle roads to ultimately disrupt vehicular activity on trains in and around the urban area.”

Superintendent Dunstan said police remained in Colo Valley and executed a search warrant, and further arrests and charges were expected after two people were arrested earlier.

“This is not traditional protest activity. This is criminal activity,” he said.

“What this group is engaging in is definitely criminal activity, and therefore the police response.”

Australian Associated Press