Blood has been spilled following a violent altercation between an angry man and PETA activists. The profanity-laden scuffle was filmed on smartphones from several angles and one activist Bailey Mason said the incident has left him “absolutely scared”.
Moments earlier his small group had been chanting outside Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, holding signs reading “Shut it down” and “Dolphins forced to perform”.
As the last venue in NSW to house captive dolphins, the Coffs Harbour park is the site of regular protest action calling for the animals to be released from their tanks and into sea pens. Despite the difference of opinions between management and activists the two camps regularly engage in peaceful discussions.
Sunday had been an important day for the 50-year-old park. After entering voluntary administration in July, it was hosting a fundraiser to try and keep its doors open.
When we spoke with the park’s general manager Terry Goodall, he said yesterday's protest had been “particularly boisterous” and some guests had complained. But he was shocked that anyone would use aggression towards the activists and said he did not know the man at the centre of the altercation.
What does the video show?
Footage supplied to Yahoo News Australia shows a man in a red shirt approaching the small group on Sunday afternoon. They appear to exchange profanities and he asks, "Why do you have to harass people trying to do their work?"
Sophie, a 29-year-old protester later told Yahoo the man's actions were not making any sense. “We didn't speak to him at all. He just came out of nowhere and started going crazy,” she said.
In the video, protesters tell him they are “peaceful” and plead for him to “please go away”. A moment later he lunges towards them with two hands, pushing them back.
He takes one of their signs and throws it on the ground, then knocks down a placard. The activists follow and continue to film him as he walks away.
As the man returns to his camper van, an activist calls out to “get the rego”. He then turns and approaches them again.
Anger turns to violence outside dolphin park
Lasting more than five minutes in total, the argument heats up again when the man smashes Sophie's phone out of her hand, allegedly smashing it.
Sophie and two of her colleagues then jump on him, telling him to stop. “The park had no problem with us standing here,” one of them yells at him. “Well, f*** off,” the man shouts.
After two of the activists release him, the man tries to lumber off, but a third person is on the ground holding onto his legs. He calls her a “silly bitch” and walks back to his camper van.
He approaches the group a third time, but all they exchange are heated words.
Who was behind the incident?
Authorities are investigating allegations an unknown man approached a group of people at Coffs Harbour on Sunday, assaulted them and damaged personal property.
“The man then allegedly fled the scene, after which the group reported the incident,” police told Yahoo News.
While the brawl was filmed on several phone cameras outside the park, it remains unclear what prompted the aggression.
One of the activists, Sophie, shared photos of marks across her chest, which she said she suffered during the incident. Pictures of another protester, 52-year-old Jodi, show her shirt bloodied by a deep scratch across her stomach.
Protester Bailey Mason said the man’s aggression won’t silence them.
“We’re going to ramp up the protest even harder now,” he said. “But we might have to hire some private security in order for it to be safe.”
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