Media Releases 2011
Protesters leave Edinburgh Gardens
11 November 2011
Campers at the Edinburgh Gardens have left the gardens peacefully.
Mayor Alison Clarke said Council had appealed to the group earlier this week to end their stay in the gardens, saying she had been clear from the start that Edinburgh Gardens was not suitable for camping because it was a local suburban park.
The group had made a commitment to Council to leave by Friday lunchtime, but had left peacefully ahead of schedule on Thursday night. They requested assistance from Council to help them clean up the site and this was provided.
“We are very pleased by the outcome, particularly the protesters’ co-operative approach and agreement to leave peacefully,” Cr Clarke said.
“Our aim was always to approach this in a caring and sensitive way without the same level of anguish that occurred with the Occupy Melbourne eviction on 21 October.
“In doing this we wanted to respect the rights of people to protest and exercise freedom of speech, but also respect and understand our residents’ connection to their local park.
“I would like to thank the protesters for honouring their commitment to leave and their co-operation with Council.
“Thanks also to the residents for their patience and understanding while we worked towards this outcome.
“I would also like to thank our staff who have approached this issue with intelligence and compassion, as well as the Victoria Police and youth support agencies who worked with us for a peaceful resolution.”
The protesters provided a letter to Council and the community and asked for this to be published on Council’s website.
The letter is below:
A LETTER FROM MR MANU DAWE, ON BEHALF OF PEOPLE PROTESTING AT EDINBURGH GARDENS
Dear residents and council of the City of Yarra,
We have experienced much grace and goodwill from our brief "occupation" within the Edinburgh Gardens and we wish to express our deep felt gratitude for the compassion, understanding and flexibility of the Council, Officers, Police and the residents of the City of Yarra. We acknowledge and appreciate the ongoing good-will, cooperation and friendly communications with Council and the population of the City of Yarra.
We entered with a clear hand-shake agreement with City of Yarra upon arriving, to leave the park if complaints from residents made the occupation untenable and we acknowledge sadly that some of the complaints were valid (unsightly structures). Our organisation at the camp was unable to substantiate, record or reflect properly the deep and widely expressed approval for the Occupation being there to legitimately counter the complaints received by Council. As per agreement, we have set noon Friday as our time of departure from the gardens, though this process has begun already in earnest to support the Treasury Gardens crew. We will ensure that the area is clean and tidy after our departure as we maintained throughout.
After an excessively violent and traumatic eviction of "Occupy Melbourne" from the Melbourne City Square, our group (mainly kitchen crew continuing to provide hot food and comfort for the Occupants remaining in Treasury Gardens) moved to Edinburgh Gardens to heal, regroup and find a sanctuary from further threats of state sanctioned violence upon our peaceful group.
In being prevented to care properly for our physical, mental and emotional beings (staying dry, safe, warm and fed in appropriate structures that support "Occupying") opposition to supporting structures is fundamentally a lack of care and a very serious breach of duty from any authority, person or group. So, we hope to correct the false impressions of any casual observer of what was and is our intent by "occupying".
Those who were present in Edinburgh Gardens were already exhausted and faced brand new challenges by establishing a constant presence there; namely containing the street youth groups and educating them if they wished to stay, public drunkeness and a constant level of threat from some residents and public. While we encountered and dealt with all these difficulties arising from the new circumstances, we were also encouraged by some spectacular heart-warming stories emerging from those kids that we held for a time, though we did not have enough resources to both hold this new group and also present a cogent appearance or message - mainly owing to a lack of resources and experienced elders present.
Hardships are currently and continually being stoically endured by our ongoing worldwide Occupations because we stand resolutely for our new method of protest/demonstration being the only way to keep cohesion and exposure to the public. We were not just "camping", we are not a pre-organised group but are growing organically as our message is heard, we are now almost 1 month old and any further compassion, support and assistance is very welcomed and required for the "99%" to be fully aware of what is going on and what we are protesting for.
(On behalf of the Occupants of Edinburgh Gardens)
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