Protest on Trial: Day 12

Friday 18 May

Senior Constable Beaumont testified that the line of protestors outside Max Brenner “became passive aggressive”, meaning that they linked arms and leaned back into police lines. Though the crowd had “surged” he and the police line had held their ground. He had later been part of the team that arrested Naomi Farmer.

Under cross examination, Senior Constable Beaumont described the meaning of besetting as he understood it, that is activity that ceased the opportunity for the general public to go about their business, whether entering or leaving a premises. At the time of her arrest Ms Farmer was sitting in a group near the Max Brenner store. Asked whether Ms Farmer was blocking anyone immediately before her arrest, Senior Constable Beaumont stated that “through the police tactics most of the protesors had been moved from QV” or were out of the way.

Senior Constable Beaumont agreed under cross examination that, during the period he was in the police line, there were large periods where there was no pushing between police and protestors.

Constable Rodwell testified that he was part of the team that arrested Vashti Kenway. Under cross examination he was asked about the “important matter” of Ms Kenway being placed in a headlock while being moved out of QV Square. Constable Rodwell asked “why is that important?” He was reminded of the briefing by Senior Sergeant Falconer who stated in part: “Mostly tonight will be level one, push and shove. They haven’t been known to throw things or cause serious injury… We don’t want headlocks… Anything around the neck or head area is extremely dangerous.”

Under further cross examination Constable Rodwell agreed that he had punched Omar Hassan. Constable Rodwell testified that Mr Hassan had a hold of either himself or Ms Kenway, and he had punched Mr Hassan, aiming for his arm, to break this hold. His concern at this time was to “take Vashti to safety” in the loading dock.

Marie Fleming, the General Manager of QV, returned for cross examination by Mr Hughon, one of the defence barristers. She agreed that the position of QV is that, whether shopping or protesting you are entitled to come in; but if you are asked to leave your entitlement is ended.

Ms Fleming testified about the nature of QV, and particularly QV Square and the lanes that feed into it, as public space which is private property. These spaces have to be kept open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Ms Fleming rejected the idea that this made the spaces similar to Melbourne’s City Square, as QV is private property. In preparing for the July 1 rally, QV management had not given any consideration to the question, “what would we do if it was City Square?”

Ms Fleming was asked to read section 5.1 of the covenants placed on the land title for QV under an agreement between QV and Melbourne City Council (under section 173 of the Planning and Environment Act). The covenant requires QV Square to be kept open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in a manner “reasonably analogous to comparable squares”. A “comparable square” is any of the public squares in the Melbourne CBD, “including City Square”.

Under re-examination, Ms Fleming testified that section 5.4 of the covenants governing QV Square is that, subject to the rights and obligations of the Melbourne City Coucil, QV has control over traffic in QV’s public spaces, and can temporarily close an area to the public for works, alterations, or other activities.

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