NSW police are to conduct an internal investigation following several allegations of assault at Sydney Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday.
A video has been uploaded to YouTube showing the arrest of an 18 year old man on Saturday night who was allegedly assaulted by a police officer. One woman features in the video saying the policeman “dragged him by the throat and smashed his skull on the pavement.”
The video does not show the initial assault however it does shows the police officer pushing the 18 year old to the ground and standing on his back. According to Police the young man had been charged with assaulting police, resisting arrest and using offensive language in public.
The general public who are shown in the video appear to be extremely distressed and upset by the actions of the Police.
Another of the allegations comes from the former Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) co-convenor, Bryn Hutchison, who says he was trying to cross the road when the assault occurred.
“When I moved to cross the road anyway I was grabbed from behind by several officers and thrown down on my back. They flipped me over and pushed my face into the road,” he says.
“They put their weight on me and made it difficult to breathe. When I told them I couldn’t breathe properly one of the officers said ‘if you can talk, you can breathe.”
Hutchison says he has extensive bruising and temporary nerve damage in both thumbs because of how tightly the police handcuffed him.
He says, “I’ve had a good working relationship with police before – I’ve gone to local area commands across Sydney to work with gay and lesbian liaison officers for CAAH and we’ve always worked well together. I had contacts and people who could help me, but if that had happened to some young person they would have been traumatised.”
“If police officers are willing to go around kicking people in front of other officers, it seems there’s some structural and cultural issues within some areas of the police.” He says the police involved in the incident were bought in from Parramatta for the event.
A third man who spoke to Australia’s Star Observer says he was chewing gum when four or five police men “lunged” at him, slammed him against a wall and chocked for around a minute. He was then let go and handcuffed.
“They choked me to the point where I was only semi-conscious. I just couldn’t breathe, it was like I was drowning,” he says.
“Andrew (name has been changed) alleges that he was strip-searched in a police van and the officers suggested taking him to hospital to have his stomach pumped. When his interrogators realised he had not taken any drugs, they then accused Andrew of assaulting police,” writes the Star Observer.
“They kept telling me that assault of an officer was a much worse offence, and how I should have just admitted to possession and taking drugs. I think they were trying to intimidate me into giving a drug confession.”
Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich says he is aware of several claims of assault and will be calling for a full Police investigation.
“I am aware and my office has been contacted by others who have experienced similar interactions with police during Mardi Gras, hopefully those matters will also be investigated” he says.
Assistant Police Comissioner, Mark Murdoch held a press conference earlier today and is appealing to the public to come forward with more information and video footage in relation to the assault of the 18 year old man. He also warned against jumping to conclusions saying that the You Tube video shows only a part of the incident.
Sexuality and Gender Diversity Spokesperson, Donna Adney, also spoke at the press conference and says,”We’re proud of NSW Police’s relationship with the LGBT community and people should feel they can come to us with more information.”
| Sarah Murphy