'Really violent': Police accused of extreme action as students injured in protest

Yahoo News Staff
·4-min read

Protesting university students have accused police of excessive violence after a new video emerged showing officers forcing protesters to the ground last week.

One woman says her wrist was dislocated when police led her away when she was filming the arrest of another student.

Hundreds attended The University of Sydney’s event named “Teach-In Against Uni Cuts” on Wednesday afternoon to protest against against job cuts and university fee hikes.

A phone being smashed under the foot of a police officer at the Sydney University student protest. Source: TikTok/ftpi3i2
A phone is smashed under the weight of a police officer's boot. Source: TikTok/ftpi3i2

The protest ran in conjunction with the “National Day of Action in the campaign against attacks on higher education”, according to an event page posted to Facebook.

Attendees of the event obeyed coronavirus safety protocols and the university confirmed in a statement it did not invite police onto the campus.

Several students were arrested and fined, including law professor Simon Rice who said he was trying to move past the protest.

‘They hit him and grabbed his hair’

A video, uploaded to TikTok on Tuesday, showed protesters being handled by police before the man holding the phone was restrained and his phone stepped on, seemingly by an officer’s boot.

A female student wearing a hi-vis vest and a face mask was shown having her arm twisted while yelling out in pain, requesting that she have her phone returned to her.

“I was recording someone’s arrest,” Jayfel Tulabing-Lee told the Sydney Sentinel.

“They had hit [him] and grabbed his hair...it was really violent. One of the riot police grabbed my phone.

“They grabbed my hand and twisted my hand and my arm around, and dislocated my wrist.”

She said she was arrested and fined.

An officer then confronted the man filming, instructing him he was “part of this protest” and to move away.

He then seemed to be grabbed from behind while moving away, with him then repeatedly telling an officer, “I’m down, I’m down, I’m down.”

In the process of his fall, his phone dropped to the ground and is then heard being smashed under the pressure of a large black boot. The officer appears to walk over the phone several times.

“New footage has arisen of the student rally at USYD last Wednesday (from a broken phone smashed by police officer stepping on it),” text across the footage shared to TikTok read.

Ms Tulabing-Lee told the Sentinel the force from the police was extreme.

“A lot of students were pushed, dragged along the ground, had their legs kicked out from under them, and a lot of phones were cracked,” she. said.

“It was a very messy, messy encounter with the police.”

Chaotic scenes were captured in the Sydney Uni protest footage shared to TikTok. Source: TikTok/ftpi3i2
Chaotic scenes were captured in the protest footage shared to TikTok. Source: TikTok/ftpi3i2

Police not invited in campus by university

The University of Sydney released a statement following the protest saying it was “very disturbed” by footage that emerged from the event.

Students and staff who attended and thought they were “treated poorly” by police were encouraged to file formal complaints and seek support through its counselling and assistance services.

“We did not invite NSW Police on to campus today. NSW Police did contact us once ahead of the event, and twice during it,” part of the statement read.

“We confirmed we were aware activity was planned, based on social media. We provided no further information or judgement about the activities, and did not make any requests.”

The university’s dean of law, Professor Simon Bronitt, also issued a statement saying he was shocked but the events that unfolded last week.

“These controversial policing practices only serve to escalate tensions and violence in the management of otherwise peaceful demonstrations,” he said.

A NSW Police Spokesperson said the police force supported the right of students and staff to protest, so long as demonstrations complied with safety protocols.

“The NSW Police Force recognises and supports the rights of individuals and groups to protest peacefully and is committed to working with all groups to ensure the safety of the public,” they said in a statement.

“Anyone who breaks the law or engages in antisocial behaviour will be dealt with accordingly. The incident is not being treated as intentional and no action will be taken.”

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