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.
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.