Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Police riot at charity function in Sydney

A HEAVILY pregnant woman who copped a face full of capsicum spray after the riot squad closed a charity function at the Avalon Beach RSL Club on Saturday night is concerned for the welfare of her unborn child.

Miranda Minter, 35, was at the club for a cancer fundraiser when police entered the function room about 11.15pm.

She claims to have been sitting about 1m from a man who was subdued by police after he was allegedly found in possession of cannabis. “I just got all the pepper spray in my throat and my nose and I actually vomited,” she said.

“I tried to get out but they locked the entrance - I was locked inside and my fiancee was locked outside. I have never ever seen such police brutality in my life.”

Video footage obtained by the Manly Daily shows Ms Minter’s fiancee pleading with police for her to be let out of the function room, telling them she is eight months pregnant, to which an officer replies: “Well she shouldn’t be here then - she should be at home”.

The video also reveals patrons loudly and repeatedly abusing the police.

Local police said the riot squad had to be called after the crowd became unruly when the man was arrested, but staff and patrons at the club have accused the riot squad of brutality and said innocent people were sprayed with capsicum spray, punched and hit with batons.

The function, which attracted about 150 people and featured several bands, was being held to raise money for a cancer patient hospice at North Sydney.

The man who organised the fundraiser, Hung Donkey bass player Clay MacDonald, said “it was devastating to watch this crazy violence unfold on what should have been a peaceful night. Not for 18 years have I seen such a hyper-display of police brutality and aggression,” he said.

“They had a few officers amongst them that held their composure and did the right thing but for the most part these police officers lost control of themselves and the situation.”

Northern Beaches duty officer Insp Sam Bartlett said the drug dog and several officers entered the club and the dog indicated one of the patrons was in possession of a drug. He said the Newport man, 35, objected to being searched, resisted arrest and had to be subdued with capsicum spray.

Insp Bartlett said other people took exception to the man’s arrest and became unruly, leading to five being charged with offensive conduct or offensive language. He said the riot squad was called in to quell the disturbance. “The man objected to being arrested and the situation deteriorated when he played up and others got involved,” he said.

A staff member who asked not to be named said the police ordered the doors to the auditorium to be closed.

“The manner in which the officers behaved with their unprovoked assaulting of young adults and threatening behaviour completely escalated the situation despite the security, duty managers and staff members’ best efforts to calm the situation and prevent injury to patrons,” he said. A police spokesman said the allegations raised would be treated as a complaint and investigated.


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