NSW Police made a number of statements yesterday (19/06/22) in relation to a raid on a campsite occupied by Blockade Australia activists in Colo Valley. We would like to set the record straight.
At 8.30am on 19/06/22, climate activists in the Colo valley became aware of two people in full camouflage gear hiding in the bush above a camp occupied by Blockade Australia climate activists. We approached the two people, who were armed and masked, and spoke to them. The camouflaged people did not respond to our questions but remained stationary and silent. There were no police markings on their camouflage gear. They did not identify themselves as police. When they did not speak or move a climate activist tapped one of the camouflaged people on the shoulder and asked if they were okay. The person was heard to say, “We’ve been compromised”.
The two armed, camouflaged people found hiding above our campsite did not speak to us or identify themselves to us or offer any sign to indicate that they were police officers. At 9am a large black car sped down the private driveway to our campsite. The two camouflaged people ran towards it. They grabbed and pushed several climate activists before jumping into the vehicle. The vehicle contained two men carrying guns, wearing black tops and jeans. The vehicle and its occupants had no police markings. We asked the persons to identify themselves but none of the four occupants spoke with us. The vehicle then accelerated and sped towards people standing on the road. Two people were struck by the car and injured.
At no point did any of the climate activists harm or threaten to harm the camouflaged intruders or occupants of the vehicle. It is possible that the unmarked car was dented when it smashed into our bodies however we cannot verify this. The police claim made on 19/06/22 that officers experienced fear or felt threatened is disingenuous. We were not the ones with the guns.
By 11am a massive police search and seizure operation was underway. 7 climate activists were arrested and were held overnight. 40 more activists including children, people with disabilities and elderly people were surrounded by police and detained for over 4 hours in a cold, wet field. Police breached multiple protocols in their interactions with us, denying virtually every civil liberty there is. One police officer urinated in front of a 14-year-old girl. A full account of police breaches will be made available when we have completed interviews.
Every person was individually searched and every vehicle was searched. Police seized phones and other communications devices. Around 40 climate activists were forced to leave the campsite; many with no bedding, warm clothes or communications equipment. Police remain on site at the property and are still refusing access, even to the property owner.
We reiterate: no crimes had been committed. All of the campers are climate activists who are part of a Blockade Australia network, dedicated to protecting earth’s life support systems. No person has ever been harmed during a Blockade Australia action. We have not and will never harm any person.
By nightfall, 7 people were in custody and around 40 people were stranded in the Blue Mountains with no bedding or warm clothing. Several people who had fled into the bush when they saw the armed intruders were unaccounted for. With temperatures rapidly dropping and no communications, we were acutely worried.
By 9pm, one person was still missing. The NSW police refused to activate the SES to search for our friend. The police threatened to arrest locals and activists engaged in searching for our missing friend. A public call out on our Facebook channel garnered much support, with numerous people calling the SES, NSW Police and even the Premier. We were fearful for our friend’s life. The NSW Police stubbornly refused to activate the SES to locate our friend.
At 5.30am our friend was located, by us. They are safe and well. We would like to thank Blue Mountains locals and our broader network who have offered their care and practical support over the past 24 hours.
We will not be intimidated by the militarised police who squash dissent to the system that fuels the climate crisis. We will not cave to fear tactics.
The resistance to the economic and political system of Australia is growing stronger each day.
The planned mobilisation on June 27 will go ahead.