Lending a hand at lunch

By Rhonda Dredge

When you’re on your lunch break in the city, you don’t expect to be confronting police and offering support to those in distress.

That’s what happened to Louise Bennet when she dropped by to see her mum in Collins St on Friday, June 14.

Her mum Sylvia, 74, was at a “Free Julian Assange” rally outside the British consulate. 

“It was meant to be a peaceful protest,” said Ms Bennet. But by the time she arrived, an angry scene had erupted, people were yelling, a woman had been arrested and her mum was close to tears.

Ms Bennet was dismayed at the show of force. 

“I’m still so shocked a combined Federal and Victoria police force would be so aggressive and intimidating towards such a small, peaceful protest,” Ms Bennet told CBD News a week later.

Ms Bennet at the protest in Collins St.
The arrested woman was being held by several police officers at the tram stop when Ms Bennet arrived.  She rushed to her side to give her moral support.

“I’m so proud of you,” she cried out across the ranks of the officers, while taking pictures with her phone.

There were about a dozen police officers and 20 protesters, holding placards, chalking the footpath and driving down the street with a billboard.

Sylvia Bennet, Louise’s mum, told CBD News that the arrested woman had been sticking up a banner to a lamppost when a police car stopped, and an officer confiscated it. 

The woman was handcuffed, held in a nearby lane and later taken to Melbourne West police station. 

Louise Bennet said the rally was to protest about the way the press was covering the imprisonment of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London.

“I hadn’t been part of the protest but came to take a look during my lunch break to check up on my mum.  I joined as a result of what I saw.”

“I’m just so shocked and upset by the overreach. I guess I’ve been shielded from it in my middle-class bubble ... until now.”

The protestor was not charged. 

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