THREE women, including journalist and activist Wendy Bacon, were arrested in St Peters on Friday morning during a peaceful protest against the demolition of forcibly acquired homes for the WestCONnex toll road.
The arrests occurred during the fourth consecutive day of non-violent direct action in St Peters against WestCONnex, and bring the total number of residents arrested during this week’s protests to seven.
The other two women arrested were issued with infringement notices and released. Prof Bacon was held and charged with failing to obey a reasonable direction for the safe and efficient regulation of traffic, and was initially given a bail condition that would have made it a breach of bail to be within 10m of any WestCONnex site.
After refusing to sign this, Prof Bacon appeared in Newtown Local Court and was granted bail on condition that she does not enter several streets in St Peters. Prof Bacon told the court she would be pleading not guilty.
“It was distressing to see our police used yet again by the private corporations building Mike Baird’s deeply unpopular WestCONnex tollway,” said WestCONnex Action Group spokesperson Sharon Laura.
“What was particularly disturbing about this incident was that Wendy Bacon, a journalist and a high-profile campaigner against WestCONnex, appeared to be specifically targeted. She was called by name by one of the arresting officers, and was taken away after she approached him to ask a question.”
Ms Laura said it was not the first time police had used heavy-handed tactics at WestCONnex protests.
“This week has seen police officers use pain compliance techniques and violence against residents at WestCONnex protests, some of whom were elderly,” said Ms Laura.
“These WestCONnex protests also appear to be the first time NSW police have used Mike Baird’s draconian anti-protest laws have been used against residents, which allow officers to treat peaceful protesters like criminals.
“But residents will keep taking non-violent direct action against the WestCONnex tollway as long as Premier Baird keeps pushing this sham project through,” said Ms Laura.
Prof Bacon was previously arrested for entering inclosed lands at a WestCONnex drill site in Newtown last October after contractors built temporary fencing around her, a charge she is contesting.
“The Baird government has completely overridden democratic planning processes at every stage of WestCONnex,” said Prof Bacon.
“I’ve always believed in peaceful direct action when community rights are denied. So I’ll keep standing with residents to protect communities from WestCONnex, and demand that Premier Baird stops allowing private tollway companies to cause massive damage across Sydney,” said Prof Bacon.
Media contacts: Sharon Laura 0417 022 553, Wendy Bacon 0409 403 774