Local police have been accused of ‘playing power games’ in relation to the Brunswick Heads drumming circle, after they set up a random breath test operation directly opposite the gathering.
In a move that appeared to directly target the drummers and dancers, officers from Tweed-Byron Police parked their testing van next to Torakina Park on January 3.
This is the location where the circles have taken place on Sunday afternoons and evenings for much of the past year.
A local man who attended the January 3 gathering said that the drummers were told to move on by police. ‘A group of around 30 people stayed in the park,’ said the man, who asked to remain anonymous.
‘The vibe was good, but many were disappointed at the level of police enforcement. Police were playing power games’.
After being moved on, a group of drummers reportedly headed up to the surf club and recommenced playing.
However, the drummers and those watching them were once again moved on by police soon after, at around 5.30pm.
‘One lady asked why, and was told by police that they had been ordered by NSW Health to move on groups of over 100.’
‘What’s funny is that there was no ‘group’ per se – just a Sunday afternoon at the beach with people in small groups in various locations watching a small group of drummers.
A police spokesperson confirmed that officers had gone to the park, and said that they had been ‘engaged by a private company to operate a User Pays Service’.
‘As part of this operation, officers conducted a traffic enforcement operation in the nearby area.’
The spokesperson did not comment on the private company which had hired the police to intervene, but The Echo understands that it was Reflections Holiday Parks.
The spokesperson denied that police had issued any move-on directions in Torakina Park or at the Surf Club. She said officers had been called to the surf club ‘following reports of intoxicated persons’.
The drumming circle has been a source of considerable community discussion and debate over the past two months, as it has grown in popularity. A number of long-term Bruns locals have complained about the noise generated by the drumming, as well as what they say is a lack of social distancing.
Those taking part in the gathering say that it is a spontaneous event that provides a vital opportunity for human connection and creativity.