Protests against the Telstra installation of 5G at the Post Office in Mullumbimby yesterday led to the arrest of local activist Dean Jefferys.
According to Mr Jefferys around 200 people attended the impromptu protest following a call out to for 24 hour rolling protests. However, police have put the numbers at 100 to 120.
‘I was arrested for trying to stop a truck that was intending to remove a car that was blocking 5G installing equipment,’ said Mr Jefferys.
‘I am shocked and appalled that the government aided by the police would force this 5G roll out during the Coronavirus lockdown period hoping that there would be no protest. This is clearly against the communities desires as expressed recently when thousands of residents turned up at the Mullumbimby council chambers and public meetings.’
Mr Jefferys said people are planning to turning up to protest every day until the ‘installation is stopped and the real health concerns of the local residents are satisfied’.
Some observers have said that they were concerned that the protesters and their families were not practising social distancing and that the police who were standing by did not appear concerned.
However, Mr Jefferys said that, ‘people who attended the protest mainly kept a safe distance from everyone else. Yet when I made my sit down protest, that I am allowed to do under our constitution, and I asked police to keep a safe social distance I was instantly arrested and closely manhandled by three ungloved police.’
‘With only around ten new cases of COVID-19 in all of Australia yesterday it appears obvious the war on coranavirus is almost over. Now we just have to be careful that tyranny doesn’t become the new threat.’
Police responded to questions from Echonetdaily stating that the protest was unauthorised and that the protesters were directed by police to ‘move on’.
‘The direction was ignored by several protesters forcing police to issue warnings regarding social distancing,’ said a police spokesperson.
‘Protesters continued to harass workmen at the site and obstructing vehicle access. The owner of a vehicle that had parked on a footpath at the location was directed to move her vehicle. When she refused to comply, police organised a tow truck to attend the location and tow the vehicle at her expense. Upon the arrival of the tow truck several protesters obstructed access. They were directed to move, however, failed to comply.
‘One man was arrested, and after resisting police, he was placed in the rear of the police vehicle. He was taken to Mullumbimby Police Station where he assisted with inquiries and was later released. Police forcibly removed two women from the footpath where they were obstructing the tow truck; they were later released. A man was seen to walk directly towards the tow truck and headbutt the side mirror causing a head injury. He was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics at the scene and was not taken to hospital. The remaining protesters left the site.’
Responding to the issue of the police being ungloved and unmasked the police spokesperson said that police are supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE) and determine when to use them.
‘Police are taking special precautions for all employees to limit their exposure to COVID-19. Officers have been instructed on the appropriate use of personal protective equipment and it has been provided to them to use as is necessary.
‘If an officer is exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 or is feeling unwell, steps are taken to manage the health and well-being of the officer. This includes consideration of the officer’s family.
‘The community can be assured officers in the field are aware of the required social distancing measures and are adhering to these where practicable, while still maintaining their capability to enforce law and order.’
♦ Telstra and Byron Shire Council have been contacted for comment