Herald Sun

SELF­ISH RAB­BLE SHUT CITY

- DAVID HUR­LEY AND ELLEN WHINNETT Pro­test­ers rally at Flinders St sta­tion against the clo­sure of in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. Pic­tures: JAKE NOWAKOWSKI david.hur­ley@news.com.au Twit­ter: @david­hur­leyHS Protests · Social Issues · Society · Melbourne · Austria · Belarus · Iceland · Victoria Police · Victoria · St Kilda · Belgium · Socialist Party · City of Yarra · Robert Doyle

PRO­TEST­ERS brought Mel­bourne CBD to a stand­still last night with hun­dreds of thou­sands of work­ers fac­ing a night­mare com­mute home af­ter Flinders St was shut down.

Around 4000 pro­test­ers chant­ing about in­dige­nous rights started their protest at 4pm and con­tin­ued to rally through the evening rush hour, caus­ing chaos in the city.

Tram ser­vices faced mas­sive dis­rup­tions with com­muters strug­gling to find a way home.

Pro­test­ers marched through the city via Bourke St be­fore set­tling at the junc­tion of Flinders St and Swanston St shortly af­ter 5pm.

While com­muters were able to pass into the train sta­tion, peo­ple try­ing to use trams and cars faced long de­lays.

The protest was or­gan­ised by a group called War­riors of the Abo­rig­i­nal Re­sis­tance.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle crit­i­cised the pro­test­ers, say­ing they were be­ing “self-in­dul­gent”.

“What a great way to gain sym­pa­thy to your cause: by dis­ad­van­tag­ing and in­con­ve­nienc­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple just try­ing to get home at the end of the week,’’ Cr Doyle said.

“As al­ways, protest is le­git­i­mate but surely not when it im­pacts so un­fairly on so many peo­ple.” Af­ter the pro­test­ers ar­rived in Flinders St hun­dreds sat down on the road and tram tracks while sev­eral speeches were made.

Po­lice were out in force, block­ing off sec­tions of Flinders St to traf­fic and en­sur­ing com­muters could get into the train sta­tion.

Of­fi­cers mon­i­tored the rally but showed no sign of try­ing to move the pro­test­ers on.

A spokes­woman for Vic­to­ria Po­lice said the rally was “peace­ful”.

Com­muter Jon Forbes, 38, who was try­ing to catch a tram to St Kilda from the CBD, said: “It is self­ish to do this on a Fri­day af­ter­noon when peo­ple just want to get home af­ter a long week of work.

“Peo­ple have the right to protest but it would surely be fairer for every­body if they held it on a week­end.”

Kate Hutchinson, 23, who was strug­gling to get to Brunswick, said: “It’s a joke.

“Peo­ple just want to get to where they are go­ing on a Fri­day and a bunch of self­ish peo­ple are stop­ping thou­sands of peo­ple from do­ing that.”

The rally came six days af­ter ugly scenes played out at Fed­er­a­tion Square where an­tiIs­lam and anti-racism pro­test­ers clashed.

War­riors of the Abo­rig­i­nal Re­sis­tance stated it was hold­ing the rally to protest against

“the forced clo­sure of Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties”.

Steve Jolly, a mem­ber of the So­cial­ist Party and a coun­cil­lor at the City of Yarra, told the Her­ald Sun he sup­ported the protest.

“There was a lot of sup­port for it,” he said.

“The whole point of a protest is about be­ing in­con­ve­nient.

“You need to do that to get your point across. You need to do it at a time when you get the most at­ten­tion.

“If you did it 10am on a Sun­day no­body is go­ing to see it.”

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