POLICE dragged residents out of a Sydney Park protest camp at 3am today so WestCONnex contractors working for the private Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) could set up a construction site, and begin work to destroy thousands of trees in the park.
“The police had assured us numerous times that we were camping lawfully on public land, therefore they wouldn’t be taking any action to remove us from the site,” said WestCONnex Action Group spokesperson Colin Hesse.
“Given these assurances, we were shocked when around seven heavily armed police moved in at 3am to drag five residents from our campsite.
“WestCONnex contractors were already moving in to fence off the area, where hundreds of trees are to be destroyed despite SMC’s failure to meet its conditions of approval.
“When we refused to leave the camp, citing the clear agreement we’d made with the police earlier that day, we were ignored.
“Yet again, WestCONnex contractors built their fencing around residents and called police over to clear us from the ‘enclosed lands’ on behalf of the private SMC.
“Then police moved in to physically drag us from our campsite in what appeared to be a very planned and well-coordinated action,” said Mr Hesse.
The protest camp had been in place and overseen by police since 6am Monday.
“The police can’t do their jobs if the community they serve doesn’t trust them,” said Mr Hesse.
“It’s incredibly disturbing to see our local police throw away that trust to help a private company build Premier Baird’s deeply unpopular WestCONnex tollway.
“Residents will continue to occupy Sydney Park to protect it from WestCONnex’s destruction for as long as Bulldozer Baird tries to push this sham project through,” said Mr Hesse.
Contacts: Colin Hesse 0401 719 124, Vince Polito 0420 758 577
Photos and footage of the raid can be viewed and downloaded at bit.ly/2cDjkQL