LOCAL and riot squad police were called in to drag residents off parts of Sydney Park this morning to allow WestCONnex contractors to fence off parts of the park for destruction.
Residents who were staying overnight at the Save Sydney Park camp woke before 6am to find WestCONnex contractors moving in with surveying and fencing equipment, followed by around 10 police officers.
After marking out a much bigger area of land than the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) road reservation, dozens of WestCONnex contractors started erecting fences across the park along the Euston Road side.
Residents had been informed yesterday by Clr Linda Scott that the RMS “haven’t finished the compulsory acquisition process” for all the land it wants in Sydney Park for WestCONnex. She urged residents to ask “each and every time for proof that they own this public land” if confronted by WestCONnex contractors.
“Yesterday WestCONnex contractors were forced to leave Sydney Park after failing to produce any proof of ownership or authorisation for the work,” said WestCONnex Action Group (WAG) spokesperson Pauline Lockie.
“Instead of providing this paperwork, WestCONnex contractors snuck back at dawn today to start work, and used police as their own private security to force their way through.”
At around 8am, the fencing contractors reached an area in Sydney Park where around 20 residents were standing.
“We were told by a WestCONnex contractor that we were now standing on private land,” said Ms Lockie. “Police then threatened us with arrest for being on inclosed lands, even though we were on open public parkland.
“Around 10 riot police then joined the local officers to force residents back and form a human barricade to allow WestCONnex contractors to erect their fencing,” said Ms Lockie.
Despite the peaceful nature of the protest, two women were screaming in pain as they were dragged away by police. Residents were also left heavily bruised after being grabbed and pushed by police. No arrests were made.
“Officers later formed another human barricade to allow WestCONnex contractors to shut down the only toilet in this part of Sydney Park,” said Ms Lockie.
“It was incredibly distressing to see our police used against us yet again by the private corporations building Mike Baird’s deeply unpopular WestCONnex tollway.
“But residents will continue to occupy Sydney Park to protect it from WestCONnex’s destruction for as long as Premier Baird tries to push this sham project through,” said Ms Lockie.
Media contacts: Pauline Lockie 0414 470 106, Rhea Liebmann 0410 517 343