The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 69/No. 14           April 11, 2005  
Sydney: housing project residents protest cop brutality
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SYDNEY, Australia—Simmering anger over heavy-handed policing erupted into a confrontation with the cops during the nights of February 25-28, in Macquarie Fields, a public housing estate in southwestern Sydney.

Residents, especially youth, gathered after two local teenagers were killed in a high-speed chase by the police through the housing project around 11 p.m. on February 25. The protesters began yelling and throwing rocks at the squads of cops arriving on the scene. Hundreds continued to protest the massive police show of force in the area the next three days.

Police arrested more than 60 people, including with military-style raids on individual homes, some of which were televised.

Residents interviewed by Militant reporters described the police crackdown. In one example, a man riding his bicycle home, who was not involved in the protests, was stopped by the cops, thrown to the ground, roughed up, and arrested. Police threatened people watching the events from their front yards that they would be arrested if they didn’t go inside, witnesses said. Cops raided a house where people were watching the scene from their balcony and bashed up two men inside. Police kept using riot gear, horses, and helicopters with searchlights in nightly patrols.

Macquarie Fields was built in the 1970s with poor public transport and few other amenities. The unemployment rate there is 11 percent, and 17 percent among youth. It is double the overall jobless rate in Sydney. Residents also complain about a long backlog of repairs that have not been carried out by the Housing Commission.

The driver of the allegedly stolen car involved in the chase, Jesse Kelly, surrendered to the police March 9. He has been charged with manslaughter for the death of his two friends, who were in the car with him and died during the crash that resulted from the police pursuit. Kelly’s grandfather, Peter Perkins, spoke out against the cop chase and similar actions by the police in the weeks leading up to the fatal crash. The police have been conducting raids in the area without warrants, he said, under the state’s new “anti-terrorism” laws. “We do not condone violence, but to say that all this is the fault of the boys’ bad behavior is totally wrong,” he told the media. “The whole community is behind us.”  
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