'Alarming' moment police push Sydney climate change protester to ground

·5-min read

Police have clashed with climate protesters after they again took their demonstration to the streets of Sydney during morning peak hour.

One woman was filmed on Tuesday morning being shoved to the ground as police tried to keep the streets clear for traffic.

Yahoo News Australia understands there were about 35 protesters in Sydney's CBD on Tuesday morning.

A protester was pushed to the ground by police, who were trying to get the activists off the road. Source: Michael Dahlstrom/Yahoo News Australia
A protester was pushed to the ground by police, who were trying to get the activists off the road. Source: Michael Dahlstrom/Yahoo News Australia

Police heavily outnumbered them and strike force detectives and custody units were on standby.

A lone counter-protester thrust a crucifix towards the demonstrators shouting "the power of Christ compels you".

Police gathered in Hyde Park where the demonstration began. The drama followed Monday's protest in Sydney's CBD when there were significant delays for motorists.

Protesters appeared to remain peaceful throughout Tuesday's march, however, those close to the demonstration, including the media, were pushed back by police officers.

At least three people were seen being escorted into a police van. One man yelled "This is a non-violent protest" as he was taken into custody.

An elderly couple were also taken into custody, with police alleging they had been seen at a protest on Monday.

Moment police push climate change protester to ground

On Twitter, NSW Police said several people had been arrested.

"A number of protesters have been arrested by officers attached to Strike Force Guard and have been taken to Surry Hills Police Station, where charges are anticipated," NSW Police said at 8.47am.

"The incident has been resolved, and the site is now cleared."

In one video, a person carrying a sign which reads "Australia is built to exploit: No plunder Down Under", is seen falling to the ground after an interaction with a police officer.

The protesters were seen carrying the sign while on the road and police tried to grab the sign off them.

As the sign is ripped from the protester's hand, the police officer pushes the protester to the ground.

The protesters are cleared off the road while drumming and police sirens are heard in the background.

Sophie McNeill, a journalist and researcher at the Human Rights Watch said on Twitter the video was "really alarming" to see the protester being knocked to the ground in such a way.

One person remarked it was "common assault".

Yahoo News Australia has sought comment from NSW Police regarding this incident.

Greens accuse NSW Police of using 'dangerous' tactics at climate protest

Greens NSW MP spokesperson on Justice and Climate Change Sue Higginson said the excessive force, aggression and bullying directed and the non-violent protesters and media were "shocking, unhelpful, anti-democratic and dangerous".

"Police aggression at this scale is dangerous and can incite and provoke aggressive community response and mistrust," she told Yahoo News Australia.

"Protest and civil disobedience play a role in our democracy and tend to only arise when governments are not listening to legitimate community concerns."

Ms Higginson said the role of the police was to maintain peace and protect the community.

"It is not the role of police to be indiscriminately heavy-handed in the face of peaceful protest, even if it is momentarily inconvenient to some," she said.

"The Sydney protests are in direct response to the governments failing on climate action and environmental protection."

Spokesperson for Legal Observers NSW, Anastasia Radievska said the actions of the police at Tuesday's protest was "entirely unsurprising".

Ms Radievska said similar scenes were observed at climate-related protests last year.

"It's particularly concerning to see continued baseless government and media rhetoric about 'unauthorised' protests, which emboldens police to crack down on protestors in this way," she added.

One protester was seen being escorted away by police. Source: Michael Dahlstrom/Yahoo News Australia
One protester was seen being escorted away by police. Source: Michael Dahlstrom/Yahoo News Australia

The protesters' climate message

Police were later seen carrying the same flag, rolled up.

"Climate change is here," the protesters are heard chanting at the scene.

"And it's killing those who didn't cause it."

According to a message sent on Telegram, the protesters met at the south end of Hyde Park at 8am.

The messages, which were sent ahead of the demonstration, urged protesters to de-escalate the situation with police at all costs and implored protesters to keep each other calm.

Police were at Hyde Park on Tuesday morning, where climate activists staged another protest. Source: Michael Dahlstrom/Yahoo News Australia
Police were at Hyde Park on Tuesday morning, where climate activists staged another protest. Source: Michael Dahlstrom/Yahoo News Australia

An anonymous spokesperson for Blockade Australia told Yahoo News Australia that "Blockade Australia" was not a formal organisation, but rather a network of people.

When asked about the police actions to keep protesters off the road, the spokesperson said it was a "continuation" of tactics to repress the protests.

"It's a continuation of the police's tactics of criminalising and repressing the protest that's necessary to achieve any kind of ecological sustainability and actively crackdown on dissent," they said.

The spokesperson said they would not be deterred.

"This kind of repression is inevitable when challenging a destructive system," they said.

"And it's the same repression that has been faced by all activists throughout time that have faced injustice."

Protesters face jail and hefty fines under NSW law

Protesters who disrupt major roadways, ports and railways can be charged with newly legislated penalties of up to two years in prison and a fine of $22,000.

A lone counter-protester thrust a crucifix towards the climate protesters. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo News Australia
A lone counter-protester thrust a crucifix towards the climate protesters. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo News Australia

On Monday, the protest began in Hyde Park, but eventually, the demonstration resulted in the Sydney Harbour Tunnel being temporarily closed.

Ten people were arrested for their alleged involvement in the protest on Monday.

One couple, who were giving media interviews near Hyde Park on Tuesday were taken into custody by police.

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