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Byron Shire
March 9, 2021

Police deny Whian protesters’ claims

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The damaged tent at the Whian Whian Rd forest blockade. Photo Patrick Tatam
The damaged tent at the Whian Whian Rd forest blockade. Photo Patrick Tatam

Chris Dobney

Police from Richmond Local Area Command are investigating two assaults against ‘forest protectors’ on a private property at Whian Whian on Wednesday night.

But they told local media they didn’t believe a protester’s tent had been slashed, even though Echonetdaily has received photographs of it appearing damaged.

And they have dismissed claims that a threatening voicemail received by one of the protest organisers was linked to the assault.

The assaults occurred just hours after a 55-year-old logging contractor was airlifted to Gold Coast Hospital after being hit by a branch as he was felling a tree at the site on Wednesday. He remains in a critical condition.

Protesters immediately announced a suspension of their blockade for the following day.

Bloodstains on a damaged tent at the Whian Whian Rd forest blockade. Photo Patrick Tatam
Bloodstains on a damaged tent at the Whian Whian Rd forest blockade. Photo Patrick Tatam

The two men, aged 22 and 35, were assaulted late on Wednesday night.

The older man was taken to Lismore Base Hospital where he was checked as a precaution before being released. The younger man sustained a cut to his right eye.

Inspector Wayne Crotty told APN media that reports on Facebook that protesters were attacked with planks of wood and had tents slashed were false.

But Whian Whian Forest Alliance (WWFA) spokesperson Patrick Tatam forwarded us photographs showing the damaged and bloodstained tents (seen on this page).

ABC radio reported this morning that police had dismissed the voicemail received by WWFA organiser Sue James saying that ‘under the circumstances’ they didn’t consider it to be threatening.

Police also said that protesters had ‘surrounded’ the ambulance attending the logging accident, making access difficult. But photographs of the incident, also forwarded by the protesters, do not appear to bear this out.

WorkCover is investigating the incident but has not halted work on the property.

Anyone with any information about the alleged assaults is urged to phone Lismore police on 6626 0599 or Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. Having been a media contact for CSG protests in the past, I received a phone call from a distraught young woman at 12:30am who had raced to a landline in Dunoon to put urgent word out of the attacks occurring near the Whian Whian logging site.

    I rang the Lismore police station to pass on the message; the officer’s response was blasé to say the least so this article does not surprise me at all.

    It’s obvious that many police officers (thankfully not all) scoff at the activities of activists and side with the companies who are intent on destroying our natural environment in the name of a ‘strong economy’. If the police are no longer employed to protect people, and are only employed to enforce inequitable laws, our society will surely decline into unruly chaos.

    Thanks to the people (employed and unemployed) who put their time and energy into protecting the environment; you all deserve a medal!

  2. “under the circumstances” of police providing strong arm support for Metgasco and illegal loggers etc I wouldn’t be inclined the believe a word they say, would you ?
    If it wasn’t for the protesters at Whian Whian stopping the ambulance, which was preparing to leave the scene of the accident, the injured worker would not have received the care he was given. Were they given false information by the co-workers or the police ?
    I’m glad to hear that Workcover is investigating but as the loggers kept on working on into the night on Wednesday, after the accident, one wonders what evidence would remain unsullied.

  3. I was onsite as an independent observer on behalf of the Bundajalung people when the injured logger was being transported from accident to the westpac helicopter.

    Before the injured logger arrived, the helicopter driver asked assistance from 12 men (he didn’t care if they were protesters or police) with 6 on each on the fence. The constable that was onsite then told everyone besides the helicopter driver to move back down to the roadside which everyone obeyed.

    No obstruction. There was no police escort and no group of people obstructing the paramedics or vehicles.

  4. There have been reports in all the regional papers about illegal logging by Forestry Corporation of NSW for several years now. I have witnessed the results of illegal logging of the federally listed critically endangered sub-tropical rainforest in Grange where the Forestry Corporation received only a small fine. Koala’s were listed as vulnerable in many parts of NSW last year and Forestry Corporation is logging Koala high use areas and habitat. It appears the police are escorting Forestry Corporation of NSW to an area to conduct illegal logging activities. Our tax money is funding the loss of threatened species habitat and putting our native animals at risk. The protectors at Whian Whian are just trying to bring attention that illegal logging is happening that is putting the threatened species at risk. It appears our state government endorses illegal logging and the destruction of threatened species habitat. When people protest this, the police are brought in to make sure the illegal activities can continue whilst putting down those who question this practice. It appears that our government, Forestry Corporation of NSW, their contractors and the police are above the law. Looks like we are truly on our way to a police state if we all don’t let them know this is not on.

  5. Most of the poilce no longer protect the community, it’s all about their own individual selfish motives. We suffered the same kind of treatment by police at Doubtful Creek blockade where they were arresting people without good cause (all charges thrown out by courts), using torture and chemicals against those unable to obey the directive due to being locked on, lying, false accusations, aggression. I for one lost all respect for them there and this just proves that feeling is correct. They say they are just doing their jobs but they are doing it with misplaced aggression and are biased because they are scared of missing out on promotion by putting their political masters offside who in turn are just after a payoff by getting a corporate position on a board after they retire on get kicked out of office…. They are on the wrong side of history and I hope they are one day made accountable for their actions.

  6. Clearly the police should be acting to uphold the law … and not give tacit approval to blatant thuggery against peaceful protesters.

    This scenario plays out time and time again, with pro log vigilantes now expecting to operate well outside the bounds of our laws with complete impunity.

    Too bloody right this has to stop. The law needs to be upheld without fear or favour.

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