Locals compare Sydney suburbs under lock-in to war zones

Written by: Louisa L. on 24 July 2021

 

 

Police have been let loose in Sydney. 

Capitalists demanded our city stay open. The NSW Government complied. Covid’s fearful spread is a direct result.

Now demands rise for government action to protect peoples’ health and economic well-being. Sydney is locked down.

Whole working class and migrant districts across the south west and west are locked in. People strive to keep themselves, their families and communities safe. Little assistance is provided. 

But much more is afoot.

Key roads in and out are watched. We aren’t talking highways, just roads linking suburbs. Cameras detect people out of area by number plate. An expanding list of targeted suburbs are ringed by police and largely isolated, unless residents have passes.

Working class Yonan D’Baz from locked-in Fairfield says he would “die defending Australia”, but after “emergency” restrictions unfolded it does “not feel like I’m living in Australia.” 

Listing mounted police, highway patrollers, paddy wagons, helicopters “from the morning till you go to sleep,” he adds, “UAVs. Are you serious?” He rages against these surveillance drones, used as if “in war zones”. 

That’s right. Drones look into peoples’ yards. Helicopters with powerful cameras and lights patrol overhead incessantly. Police car and foot patrols stop people, interrogate and search them.

Even quiet suburbs without major shopping centres, like Chester Hill, suddenly have 30 plus cop cars, their occupants trawling the streets. Shopping bags are searched without warrant, looking for “non-essential items”. 

This has happened in at least one non-red zone suburb too. 

“I can’t see the cops trying the same shit at Woolies in ------, much too well heeled, though only a few kilometres away,” a friend texted.

Few people in other parts of Sydney know. 

Learning, they react with shock. “What??? What’s essential???” asks a friend who shops at night to avoid crowds. “What about ice cream?” We laugh and imagine her arguing the point with a cop.

Beware the Emergency Response

If the crisis had been dealt with effectively by early hard lockdown and clear messages sent to ALL sections of the population in languages and media they relate to, people would have responded more sensibly and safely, as they have done in Melbourne and as they are now overwhelmingly doing in Sydney. 
Instead, we went from unrestrained Ikea therapy to the armed force of the capitalist state in one step.

And remember, emergency response legislation is rarely repealed.

After fourteen years, police remain in NT communities as an “emergency response” (originally enforced by the military) despite the trigger being publicly exposed as a lie. 

NT Aboriginal jail populations are growing exponentially as a direct result.

The Territory is remote enough for the media to ignore as rights are systematically stripped from First Peoples which make up a third of its population. It’s a testing ground for how to get away with this in other places.

Why there? The NT is home to huge resources on Aboriginal lands that an overwhelmingly foreign owned mining and gas industry want. Additionally, there are expanding US military bases and rapidly growing troop presence, all amid sabre rattling and preparations for US war with China.

Blakfellas elsewhere, especially the youth, are also targeted by police for systematic brutality and harassment. Bag searches have been an increasing part of life for years. There’s jailtime in parts of the Territory for a bottle of beer, despite the battle to stop Woolworths opening another outlet in walking distance of several dry communities. 

In 2020 Vanguard warned of emergency legislation (which removed criminal culpability from any soldiers) combining with the NT Intervention and an already existing secret military training manual, ‘Australian Army Manual of Land Warfare’, called ‘Aid to the Civilian Authorities’.  

The manual is a step by step how-to for a military coup or dissolution of parliament or other moves to open capitalist class rule. Isolating suburban centres of political concern; travel passes; indiscriminately searching people plus identifying and shooting protest leaders; and “disappearing” people, bodies and any filmed evidence: are all in the manual. 

Australia is not ripe for such an extremity. But police are certainly getting good experience.  

When urgently requested extra vaccines, General F---knuckle (supposedly running national vaccine non-rollout) offers Sydney soldiers instead. Up here police chiefs lecture us at 11am press conferences. It normalises their role in public leadership.

 

Ideas gather their own momentum

Many thousands protested against lockdown in central Sydney on Saturday, partly because of its economic impact, but probably also about the way lockdown has been imposed.

Dangerous to health and against science the protest is, but it’s a symptom, not the cause. 

Mass arrests and venomous police take oaths to track more participants through surveillance footage. Still no charges against corporate chains that packed their stores like sardines.

A mate asks how we raise the open moves by state forces without looking like conspiracy theorists.

It depends. Some people will be open to the whole story, as long as we don’t lecture or become too irate. 

Each time this writer has raised the suburban shopping bag searches, especially with laugh emojis or their conversational equivalents, friends have been gobsmacked. 

It opens a door to something very unexpected in their own backyard. Let that idea percolate, because that image of cops searching women at Aldi is powerful.

It creates its own momentum. It brings up other questions.

We take inspiration from First Peoples. This is no petit bourgeois romanticisation of their experiences, as if the last 230 years of brutal invasion and dispossession didn’t happen. 

It’s their brave defiant spirits, that we emulate. For despite everything they say, “We are exhausted, but we have survived. We will never give up.” 

In a lifetime of struggle, this writer has often been teased, and even ridiculed, about the non-public nature of most of our membership. Perhaps we could have been more open at times and gained more strength. But we recognised always the repressive nature of the state, despite the appearance of freedom and democracy. 

Our members protect themselves in a sea of people. The grassroots are our teachers and comrades. We move forward depending on their understanding, their strength, their unity and above all on their preparedness to act. We take their ideas emerging from experiences to further develop our theories of when and how to act, of how to lead.

We aren’t reckless, but moves to fascism don’t frighten us. 

We acknowledge reality and find ways to move forward. 

Like First Peoples, our Party will never, ever give up the struggle to build a society that serves the people not capitalism. 

We aren’t alone.

 

 

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