22 February 2023

Squads of police in NSW are now turning up at activists’ homes after midnight to drag them away and intimidate them against protesting: “However, according to the fact sheet, the charge relates to their presence outside the RBA building. Police allege that after leaving the Commonwealth Bank the group ‘continued to chant, shout and scream’ as they marched through Martin Place to the entrance of the RBA. … ‘Upon the front sliding doors to the Reserve Bank of Australia being shut and locked the group have remained immediately in the forecourt out the front of the premises front doors,’ the document reads. Police said that while the protesters remained ‘outside the bank’ the area was ‘still deemed to form part of the curtilage of the Reserve Bank of Australia. Any form or protesting activities carried out in this area without approval is considered unlawful and a trespass on the Reserve Bank of Australia grounds,’ the document states. Kuehlmann told the Guardian the group had been outside the building for a ‘maximum 10 minutes’ and that the group had ‘walked to the door’ of the bank before a security guard ‘pushed us back’. But police alleged the protest resulted in the RBA ‘having to temporarily stop any form of access into the premises’, which, they said, ‘significantly interfered with the conduct and business of the Reserve Bank of Australia’.” The police cautioned Kuehlmann at the time, but did not arrest her — instead, they sent five armed cops to bang on her door in the middle of the night and arrest her as her housemates and neighbours watched. They then released her with bail conditions that would prevent her protesting in future. This, I suspect, is why they arrested her in the first place — not because she had done anything to justify being arrested, but because police now routinely use bail conditions as a tactic to undermine freedom of assembly in Australia.