Friday, August 24, 2007

Sydney Jails Cleared Of Prisoners To Make Way For APEC Protesters

Bondi Beach To Get The Ultra-Security Treatment So The Ladies Can Lunch

Police are making room for at least 500 APEC protesters in jails across Sydney. Weekend detainees will be given 'two week holidays' from serving time, so their beds can be available.

Police are clearly anticipating mass arrests. The reason why weekend detainees are being give such long breaks from their sentences is because police will be allowed to detain 'persons of interest' from September 2 and then hold them, without bail, for the entire duration of the APEC summit, expected to finish on September 12.

Police are known to have already drawn-up lists of potential 'troublemakers' and are expected to make contact with these people in the next fortnight to warn them to stay away from the five kilometre long, three metre high 'steel wall' which will divide the Sydney CBD into two, and create a series of security zones around the hotels and conference centres where 21 world leaders will stay and gather for meetings.

At least eight buses have been converted into mobile prisons, with wire mesh over the windows, to transport those the police wish to detain during the APEC summit to the prisons.

Police are making the media aware that they expect "violent clashes".

Hopefully the NSW and Federal Police won't be following the example of Canadian police, who used agent provocateurs, in hoods, armed with rocks, to try and incite clashes with peaceful protesters last week. The agent provocateurs were outed by protesters for trying to start trouble and were forced to flee behind police lines.

More on the emptying of Sydney jails here :

Three of six wings of Parramatta Jail, in Sydney's west, will be cleared and a recently refurbished section of Long Bay prison, in the city's east, will be reopened to accommodate the expected surge in prisoners.

Prisoners serving periodic detention will be excused from reporting for mid-week or weekend jail.

About 200 periodic detainees are serving sentences for offences including drugs, violence and driving breaches, News Ltd said.

A Department of Corrective Services spokeswoman confirmed the move.

Columnist Michael Costello says Sydneysiders shut the hell up and stop whingeing about APEC-related disruptions. And don't even think of blaming Bush for costing taxpayers an extra $6 million for arriving two days early, on top of the $331 million already being spent on APEC, or all the traffic chaos and locked down city streets. If you want to blame someone, blame terrorists, or 'violent protesters'. That would be 'violent protesters' who haven't actually protested yet. Another example of the infamous psychic powers of News Limited employees :

Let’s look at the complaint that the meeting will cause traffic and business chaos and inconvenience.
Okay, lets. Will APEC cause traffic and business chaos, Michael?

Sure it will, though mostly in central Sydney and really only for four or five days.
Only four or five days? Why that's barely a week. The security measures, closed streets and presidential motorcades blocking traffic for hours will actually be spread over nine days, not four or five. And roads will be closed and clearwayed all the way out to Richmond, and over to Bondi, when the leaders are being transported around.

Why should such a meeting cause this level of chaos and inconvenience? Because of the high levels of security necessary to ensure the safety of these important guests of our country.

And why the high levels of security?

Because it helps feed the 'I'm so important, I want the works' egos of some of the world leaders?

There are two reasons. Any prudent security planner must work on the basis that such a gathering could be an attractive target for a terrorist attack. Such an attack could be on the US President alone, on one of the other heads of state or government or against the group as a whole.

That same prudent security planner would also work on the assumption that planned protests and expressions of dissent, despite the undoubted peaceful intentions of most of those planning to participate, will likely turn violent _ potentially very violent _ at some stage.

Apparently, Michael Costello claims, we know such protest "will likely turn...potentially very violent" because violence has broken out at "similar gatherings around the world". Except for all those APEC and WTO summits where there was no violence at all. But hey, why ruin a good rant with facts?

Are we to accept that world leaders can’t come to Australia because terrorists or violent protesters necessitate stringent safety precautions, thereby inconveniencing Sydneysiders? Surely not.

Nobody said they shouldn't come to Australia. By why not hold the APEC summit in Canberra? Or one of the more beautiful island resorts? Why inconvenience millions of people trying to get to work and do their jobs?

...if there is chaos, violence and inconvenience, don’t blame Bush. Don’t blame the leaders of China or Vietnam, who are two others who have already been singled out to be the object of protest. Don’t blame APEC as a whole. Gosh, don’t even blame John Howard.
So who do we blame?

Blame the terrorists, whose threat is real...

Anyone else?

...and blame those who will want to turn totally defensible and legitimate peaceful protest into violence.

But of course. The violent protesters who haven't actually protested yet, or turned violent. Expect more of this kind of blame-spreading in the next two weeks, even though police already know there are but a few dozen, if that, anarchists and troublemakers in the whole of the country who they are expecting to try and cause mayhem. As we noted above, the police will be contacting them and telling them to stay clear, or cop a free holiday in prison.

But it's not only central Sydney that will be disrupted, as is becoming abundantly clear.

Even a kite-flying festival at Bondi Beach won't escape the reach of APEC-related ultra-security, when John Howard's wife, Jeanette, and the spouses of 20 other world leaders, swoop on the Bondi Icebergs for Sunday lunch :

Bondi's Icebergs will endure a meltdown so guests of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit can do lunch.

The story notes that many of the top Sydney restaurants are situated inside the APEC security zone. But none of them have a view of Bondi Beach. So Jeanette Howard sees no problem disrupting an entire Sunday at Bondi Beach and at the Icebergs so she can show off the view from the restaurant.

The Prime Minister's wife, Janette Howard, and the partners of the 20 visiting leaders will descend on Bondi on Sunday, September 9.

They will bring with them a security operation that will disrupt the celebrated Bondi Icebergs Club swimming races, the annual Festival of Winds kite event and anyone intending to visit the area that day.

The source said club members were "not terribly impressed" with the officials' choice of venue.

That would be an understatement. If the club members are the same ones I came to know as a regular visitor to the Icebergs in the late 1990s you can translate "not terribly impressed" to "extremely f..king pissed off".

The Bondi Icebergs clubhouse will be closed to members until 4pm, before which it will be an operational security centre, the source said. "They're going to use the club for security and police. We're feeding and looking after them while Mrs Howard's entertaining the spouses.

Between 400 and 600 swimmers usually attend Sunday races at the Bondi Baths public pool, on the ground level of the Bondi Baths complex.

The Herald understands that many members are expected to stay away because of the clearways that will be in place and the security checks they will have to go through to swim in the races.

Enjoy your lunch, ladies.

Hopefully the hovering BlackHawk helicopters won't disrupt the kite-flying too much.

3000 Police Slated For APEC Duty - 1/5 Of State's Entire Police Force

Police Warn School Student Protesters : We Cannot Guarantee Your Safety

Eight Year Olds Subjected To APEC Security Checks - Have Your Photo ID Ready If You Want To Cross The Street