The Great Wall of Sydney has already been dismantled but to complete the picture of APEC 2007 on the ground, the police has to be a big part of the jigsaw piece. Like it or not, they were the one who have to enforce the law and took the action on the streets. And they knew they would not be so popular, especially, the peak of the ground event—confrontation with the protesters.
The key strategy of this biggest police operation in Australia was using themselves as a fence closing Hyde Park North.
The only exit and entrance to the centre of the protest was on Park Street. The protesters could not move anywhere, let alone go near the restricted area. Although it turned out to be a mild protest, some officers were willing to strip off their dignity by removing their name badges during the operation so that they could not be identified.
However, most of officers tried their best to do their jobs.
Special power and more resources were given to this APEC event to insure the perfect face of Sydney but it turned the city into an authoritarian fortress. I disappointed in myself for not questioning them enough when it came to my encounter. Well, they’ve got guns.
APEC Meeting in Sydney is over. They had their say but does anyone hear? The protest in Hyde Park became just another long-weekend party with the police as the big bouncers. Protesters were trying so hard to get attention and send their massages through, which we all had heard before. The old tactics included placards, dressing up, music and dancing but there was nothing new or newsworthy to get reported by mainstream media. For many, life goes on.
The inside outsiders.
APEC Leaders submit Tight security is largely in doubt but after the global embarrassment by the Chaser, the Great Wall of Sydney seems to be shaken. No more police hassling photographers of the Fence there is just a low tension between the police and the protesters in Hyde Park. Some of them even looks bored.
I am pushing my luck trying to photograph Great Wall of Sydney at night.
A series of these glorious scenic shots of advertising space on Sydney Harbour Bridge is fine but taking photographs of the Fence, which is effecting locals the most, is prohibited. For security reasons, 6 police officers come over and ask me me to delete the Fence images I have taken and move on . No dramas, I do so then pack the gear and catch the train home. Obviously, they follow me to the train station and hang around in a certain distance but it takes 15 minutes for them to approach me again and ask for my ID. I fully give them cooperation and finally they walk away.
Legally, in common circumstances, taking professionally photographs in some areas in Australia, such as national parks including Sydney foreshore, needs to pay a fair amount of fees. That makes it very hard for photographers when rangers approach and question the activities because it comes down to the definition of professionalism. But in this tourist hot spot no one seems to bother photographers whether they are professional or not.
When the Circus is in town, security alert is necessary. That is for sure but in what prize. APEC Meeting (Police Power) Act 2007 and restricted area have been created and to reassure the safety of the Asia-Pacific Leaders and eliminate any chaos in the event. And here comes the Fence. Walls symbolise security of authority but not the people’s. The erection of Great Wall of Sydney has created never-before contemporary Sydney urban landscape.
Stilgherrian phoned police media liaison to find out what not to be photographed but no clear answer was given. The Act does not mention any regulations about photography. They do not even have a guts to officially document the regulations.
It is like putting a pile of poo in the middle of the room and telling the kids not to smell it, no matter how stinks it does. Prohibition of the Fence becomes double standard and useless. While German tourists were told to delete there images of the Fence, similar pictures are taken with all sort of camera phones and point-and-shoot cameras. And if anyone wants to find the weak spot of the Fence, they do not have to come down themselves, just dig in the images that are floating around in Flickr.
APEC 2007 should be the last John Howard’s masterpiece before the election. But by trend, this event could be his last ever.
A circus is coming to town.
The leaders of Asia-Pacific nations are in Sydney for APEC Australia 2007 and city landscape has been changed. For the sake of security, this major event has transformed north end of the CBD into fortress. 2.8 metre-high and concrete wall and concrete wall are erected. Public transport is blocked. Sydneysiders are advised to get out of the city to avoid the chaos. Protests are discouraged by the authorities. Businesses depended on tourism plummet. The Police is given more power in the restricted area. The level of paranoia is rising. This is just the beginning.