Something is happening and
you don't know what it is,
do you, Mr Howard?
A report of the Sydney APEC Ghost Dance
Hyde Park North, Sydney, 7 September 2007
As the evening came in, the cameras of the national and international media gathered around the Ghost Dance set up in Hyde Park North. They numbered more than the event participants.
But unlike other APEC protest events the police were few, this the fruit of the trust established with police through liaison in the preparation.
Intermittent rain showers dispersed the crowds, made the cardboard of our props soggy and doused the candles in the lanterns just as we needed them.
The skellie backpack puppets spent most of the day under a poly-tarp and although they spent some hours set up either side of Happy Wheels as imposing sentinels of death, they never did get to dance that night.
Yet we persevered. Pip Wilson had arrived from Bellingen bearing boxes of cardboard skellie bones and with the aid of volunteers we had assembled and arrayed them in the Park.
The event was advertised to start at 5 pm but we waited till dark to begin.
At about 6 pm, led for Ghost Dancer, Norrie MAy-Welby, the participants, never more than 20, donned skellie masks and took up the articulated cardboard skellies and, to music from the Peacebus.com PA, began an eerie and spontaneous Ghost Dance.
More rain was coming and the media camera persons' patience was wearing thin so at about 6.30 pm we lit the candles on the fire sculpture.
I introduced the ceremony saying it was about "carrying the fire", that we lived in a time of darkness, a time of war, oppression, corrupt government and planetary destruction, yet few were awake, willing and daring to take up the challenge of creating a future of peace, justice and sustainability.
That it fell to these few, as it always has, to carry the fire of resistance, the fire of life and liberty for future generations.
"Know that the ancestors who won us the freedoms and peace such as we know today are cheering us and future generations are calling us on," I concluded.
And with that I lit the cardboard and burned the ascendent US dollar on the apex of APEC. Burning an illusion, the digital cameras went wild.
Wearing a cardboard skellie mask I fronted the Tv news cameras and repeated my APEC mantra: "If the promise of the APEC agenda is more corporate greed, more resource piracy, more corrupt government, more destruction of the planet, more war and more nukes, let the dead dance."
And: "The security arrangements of APEC have rendered the Sydney CBD a Ghost city. Let the ghosts dance."
When asked where, rather than central Sydney, I thought APEC ought to be held, I suggested the newly completed and empty 800 bed detention centre on Christmas Island saying this had been built by US contractors with $500 million of Australian taxes and was likely intended as a secret US jail for holding and torturing War on Terror dissenters such as I.
"Let the world leaders learn from direct experience the cruelty the US military intends for others," I said.
The fire sculpture had been a stretch of the no campfire agreement made with police but the officer in charge of Hyde Park that night, Inspector Neil Saville restrained his men from intervening.
The rain came in again and the media dispersed. I was for packing up and quitting. A wash out is a wash out, no blame.
But before I could get my Ghost Dancing mates organised, gay activist friends from Redfern, the Glitter Militia of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, arrived. Late (as in too late for the media) of course because mirror gazing and costuming has that effect.
They wore the most extraordinary costumes and for the next two hours they danced in the rain. But for a few soggy cops standing about, Hyde Park in APEC Ghost City was ours. Free space, creative space.
Norrie in his subsequent blog described Ghost Dance as "the high camp dance of death for dollars".
The Peacebus.com contribution to APEC dissent was bigger than the soggy actuality of the Ghost Dance however.
The event had served as a media platform from which, during APEC preparations I was able to give voice to APEC dissent. ABC Radio News and Current Affairs interviewed me for example, and put it out nationwide on the morning AM program 3 September.
Furthermore the death imagery seemed to strike a deep chord, bringing forth the grim shadow of President George Bush's lies about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and Prime Minister Howard's uranium deals with the US, China and Russia.
At the opening Stop the War protest rally in Railway Square on Tuesday 4 September I put out one of the backpack skellies and the Tv cameras loved it.
Peacebus.com was in Hyde Park from 9.30 am on Friday 7 September, there to support other events, namely the People's Alternative APEC Festival and Rally and the Bums Not Bombs salute.
With the help my mate Bob Cunii, we rigged banners and flags in the park.
Since the Alternative APEC visuals were limited to a sound stage on a truck with a couple of small banners hanging within and to few stalls by the walk ways, the colour and height of the Peacebus.com array gave the event its visual presence.
Organised by the SEARCH Foundation, the Alternative APEC was a timid and self limiting affair: speeches and music from the stage, stalls in the park, not very engaging for its supporters.
Never more than 200 people attending, the high point was the arrival of a march of about 30 supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy activist, leader of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar (Burma), and a noted prisoner of conscience who has been held under house arrest by the military junta off and on since 1990.
Likewise it was Bob, Kieran and I who rigged the "Sydney Welcomes War Criminal Bush" banner as a backdrop for the Bums Not Bush mooning and provided the PA.
Organised by Will Saunders, a mutual friend of Bob and I and one of the two cultural heros who graffitied "No War" on one of the sails of the Opera House in March 2003, about 200 bum lovers, bum flashers and media folk milled around.
No mooning records were broken but it was the big media success of the day, the international media in particular loved it. See more pix @ www.flickr.com/photos/trinnity/1343413765/
Between the wind up of Alternative APEC and the exposing of bums, I cranked up the Peacebus.com PA and introduced it as an open mike. This gave some focus for the 200 or so people who were milling about Hyde Park North looking for some action.
The open mike, as it always does, brought forth some impassioned and remarkable heartfelt speeches such as never get heard on speaker lists decided by committees of the politically correct.
At one point, at the prompting of Anna Angel from Nimbin, I told the Eureka story and led the swearing of Eureka oath.
Let me say that there were but a few in that crowd who would swear an oath to fight to defend rights and liberties in these times. But a few can make a big difference.
A pro APEC rally by Australian Liberal Party members calling themselves Aussies4ANZUS also turned out with a banner intermixing US and Australian/Union Jack flags.
They assembled in the near deserted Macquarie Street nearer to APEC than we anti APEC protesters were allowed but later moved into Hyde Park where the crowd was and set up diagonally opposite across the Archibald Fountain from the Alternative APEC stage.
A provocative act, the media cameras were drawn to it like blow flies to shit.
At the time I was organising the papering of lanterns for the evening with Anna Angel supervising volunteers drawn from the crowd.
Because Happy Wheels held tools and supplies, all morning I was been asked to lend this and supply that, so i was a first puzzled and somewhat exasperated by a young man with long hair, blazing eyes and quiet manner asking for tomato sauce.
"What do you want tomato sauce for," I asked.
"For the banner," he gestured.
Ding! The penny drops and understanding dawns. "Sure," I said and handed over a squirt bottle.
Off he went and a minute later there was an uproar from the Aussies4ANZUS. From 25 meters away I saw a swarm of police bundling our hero out of the Park and a disgusted ANZUS Aussie wiping down his banner.
There after the ANZUS Aussies withdrew from Hyde Park.
It had been a classic anarchist act: a strike at the symbolic heart, an individual initiative, brave, simple and effective. Bravo!
It put me in mind of the anarchist who cut the power lead of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir PA just as it started into the Yellow Rose of Texas in honour of US President and war criminal Lyndon Baines Johnston when his motorcade passed by in Sydney all those years ago.
Swarming was a repeated crowd phenomena that day and the next.
Some incident usually trivial would first attract a rush of media people, who would be followed by a rush of police, who would be followed by a swarm of the protest crowd which was on high alert and looking for action.
For example at about noon on Friday 7 rain had caused a crowd to form under the awnings in Elizabeth Street adjacent to the Archibald Fountain. Something happened there, I never did find out what, but whatever, it attracted a rush of media people.
In wonder and amusement I watched the cascade. First it was bicycle police in their fluoro jackets sprinting out of Hyde Park, zippity zip, one after another. They were followed by a platoon of police in blue coveralls running at the double. Then the entire crowd in Hyde Park North followed after.
The crowd and the police soon swelled out over Elizabeth Street and within a minute there was a police helicopter hovering overhead and police vehicles converging.
Too many people and cops all keyed up and with too little to do.
When Happy Wheels arrived at Hyde Park at 9.30 am as agreed, we were similarly pounced upon. Before entering the Park we had paused in College Street as agreed and called our police liaison officers for there had been talk of a bomb check.
College Street had been declared an APEC clearway and we were soon surrounded by three cars and about 15 police officers. They included an Inspector ordered us "to move on or else" and a Highway Patrol officer who listened to the rough idling engine of Happy Wheels and asked: "When are you getting that engine repaired?"
Our Police Liaison officers, Sgt. Sherrin Howle and DCM Kellie Levein, both dressed smartly in black, were soon at hand, Sherrin waving the permit signed by the Sydney Area Commander.
She had offered to bring the permit to me the day before but, caught up in preparations, I had thought it okay to collect it in the Park when I arrived. Wrong!
Our troubles did not cease once we were in the Park and parked. A procession of police from different commands came by to check us out, take down Happy Wheels' rego and my license details.
One of the police inspecting Happy Wheels noted amongst the tools on board, potentially dangerous weapon, an axe used to drive in pegs to guy the banner rigs. The axe was subsequently confiscated, never to be seen again.
Finally I put the permit under the wiper on the window screen in a clear plastic sleeve and and the earnest arse coverers of the overlapping commands soon settled down.
APEC policing was a fashion parade of new and flash uniforms and equipment like I had never seen before. So many different variations on a theme. But that's what a $160 million dollar security operation brings: lot's of new toys for the boys and girls in blue.
The bicycle cops for example lined up at the north end of Hyde Park, 20 of them in yellow fluoro vests, two meters apart and holding their bikes in front of them as crowd barriers. All adding to the colour and visual splendor of the Park that day, I thought.
But most bizarre was the robo-cop with the backpack mounted camera who was video-ing the 21 Bum Salute to President George Bush from the back of the crowd.
The camera was on rigged on an arm a meter above the police officer's head and he controlled it by watching a small monitor mounted in front of his face. He was acting as if invisible but his face turned crimson when he realised he was alone in the crowd and all about him people were jibing and sniggering at him.
"Absolutely surreal," exclaimed one of the passing protesters.
It was. And also a visual metaphor for the absurdity of the security overkill.
Three thousand police on duty that day and never more than 500 people engaged in the protests in the Park and not a violent intention or act in sight.
Our witness had revealed the War on Terror fantasy land in which our political masters choose to live.
There were some personal joys for me in that crowd that day. My daughters, Softly Sigh and Holly High, one recently arrived from London, the other from Queenscliff, Victoria, turned up with their partners to witness the Ghost Dance.
Not only them, but also the grandsons, Iggy Bravo (3 yrs) and Baxter Valentine (7 months).
A not only them but also her in-laws, Maureen and Colin. The latter is a retired Wing Commander from the RAAF and his presence was a sign of both family solidarity and also the depth of disaffection that Howard and Bush have brought to the US alliance.
Next day, Saturday 8 September was the Stop Bush rally and march promoted by the Stop the War Coalition.
Hyde Park North was to be the destination of the march and I had offered to put out flags and banners to dress the Park. But the Stop Bush organisers showed little interest in either the Ghost Dance or the flag offer so I hadn't persevered. Besides which I had been exhausted by the effort of the previous day.
Nor did I organise to get the back pack skellies on parade. For one they were soggy from the day before and for two, one had been damaged in transport.
So Bob and I took a bus to the rally carrying small props, Bob a Howard mask suck with blow flies which he held up on an umbrella like a severed head on a pike, and I took one of the small articulated cardboard skellies with the sign "Sydney APEC: Howard's Last Stand" attached.
Along the way we passed to APEC protests that had assembled along the City Road side of Victoria Park, Camperdown.
The first seen from our passing bus was a group of about 50 Falan Dafa folk equally spaced and all standing still and silent in a mediation pose with knees slightly bent and hands on lower belly. They were there to bear witness the oppression of their comrades by the Chinese Government.
The second was a very colourful animated crowd of about 30 Burmese carrying Buddhist flags and including about 5 monks in saffron. They were there to bear witness the oppression of Buddhism by the military junta in their homeland.
Seems that the police talk anticipating violence had frightened them off from assembling in Hyde Park with other APEC protesters. They might have been noticed by the passing traffic in City road but the cost of their fears was that they were totally ignored by the media, national and international that day.
When we arrived at the assembly place of the Stop Bush rally the crowd filled the area around Sydney Cathedral and Town Hall and spilled across George Street. Not as big as the Moratorium crowds I had been part of in that space 34 years previously but a big crowd none the less. Maybe 3 to 4,000 people.
There was such a good feeling in the crowd despite the heavy police and the drone of the well meaning speakers on the totally in adequate stage and PA. So much creative expression!
Finding friends and exploring the creativity of the assembling crowds is the best time of protests. So much goodwill and excitement just to be occupying public place and being visible for peace and justice.
My Ghost Dance Police Liaison officers, Sgt. Sherrin Howle and DCM Kellie Levein, all smartly dressed in black again up on the balcony of the Town Hall. I called to them and articulated the cardboard skellie.
From the balcony waved down to me to me like royalty.
Goodwill and camaraderie seemed to be everywhere except around a group of about 15 young men who were decked out in black cloth caps, black shirts, black pants, black boots, black fake bandoliers and scarves covering mouths like a unit of some guerilla force on parade.
Carrying a newly ink-jet printed banner with an obscure logo and slogan up front, they stood in three ranks. Bob later estimated the ink jet printing, the polypropylene banner and the costumes would have cost some one in the order of $2000.
My attention was directed to them by Bob Gould, he of Gould's Bookshop, a gray haired associate from Vietnam protest days and like me a veteran of many a street protest. "Agents provocateurs," Bob said grimly.
I fronted them at once and asked for their IDs. This is what happens when you are a seasoned occupier of public place, at ease and confident and not the least shy about speaking up.
The masked men ignored me, refusing to make eye contact or respond to direct questions. They were acting but here was nothing either funny or even relevant in their performance. The air about them was full of menace. Calculatedly so.
"Come on," I said. "Police have got to carry IDs."
My raised voice attracted a crowd marshal who told me to ignore them. "Graeme, don't be provoked by them. There is nothing we can do. Listen to the speakers."
Nothing we can do? I was appalled at his passivity. If there was nothing we could do, why we were assembled in the first place, if not for people power and direct action?
But out of deference to the rally organisers, I withdrew only to be confronted by a Sunday Telegraph reporter whom I had met the previous day. He asked what i thought about "those anarchists?"
"They're not anarchists", i proclaimed loudly. "I am an anarchist. Anarchists are of the people, part of the people and not hiding their faces and pretending to be someone else. Those guys are of the police, agents provocateurs and they will provoke the riot police and bring police clubs down on our heads."
Turning away I came upon Inspector Neil Saville whom I had met the previous night. He was assessing the situation and he smiled upon me warmly. "You again," he said.
About 5 meters behind the boys in black was another performance group of about 8 men and women dressed in basic black too, but evening dress. They identified themselves as "Billionaires for Bush" and their act was to chant inverted socialist slogans e.g. "Corporate greed not human need."
Their shaved headed chant leader performed with charming smile and a wicked glint in his eye.
Inspector Saville had decide to sequester the boys in black and prevent them from joining the march. A good decision, I thought.
A young officer was standing by waiting for his chief to make the same decision in regard the Billionaires for Bush whom he thought might also create trouble.
"No. no," I protested. "That's satire. They are being funny."
A nearby protester, a woman of Indian descent, hearing our dialogue affirmed what I was saying.
"They maybe Chasers," I warned Inspector Saville half joking. And that clinched the argument.
The Chasers had made themselves anti APEC cultural heroes 48 hours earlier by breaching APEC security with a mock motorcade carrying an Osama Bin Laden impersonator. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOEWd_M5m44
The parade moved off slowly, the red flags of the Socialist Alliance up near the front.
And also up near the front were the only two unions who dared publicly show their APEC dissent, the Maritime Union of Australia and Fire Brigades Employees Union. Hooray for them. The rest had gone to ground for fear of embarrassing the ALP and its election bid. Pathetic.
A bunch of dissenters wanting to lead the parade through the police lines and follow the original proposed route to Martin Place and the US Consulate sat down chanting: "If you oppose Bus, sit down."
About 50 sat down against the police line across George Street which, apart from a few hundred primed and baton ready riot police, was blocked like every other intersection in Park Street by two parked Sydney Buses especially converted for APEC into mobile prisons. In the event the 30 or so buses served mainly as mobile barricades.
The crowd passed them by regarding them as some weird and deluded curiosity. Democratic Socialist Party, they are.
Will Saunders, the organiser of the Bums Not Bombs event of the previous day, was dressed up in a suit and wearing a George Bush Jnr mask. His street theatre was to shake hands with bloodied paws and thrust fake money upon anyone in the crowd who would accept it.
He was backed up by the "Sydney Welcomes War Criminal Bush" banner and Kieran and I ended up carrying it.
In Park Street, funneled by the high rises on either side, the wind grew fierce and broke the banner rigging. We stopped to fix it and I found it had been tied with string and the knots were jammed.
I asked Will if he had a knife so that I might cut the string, re-try it and also cut wind holes in the banner. He handed me a Swiss Army pocket knife and I set to laying the banner out on the pavement at the feet of the police line.
Nothing covert about this or dangerous. When finished I handed the knife back to Will.
Carrying a knife in a public place is a summary offense in NSW though charges are usually dropped if one can establish it was carried as a necessary tool.
Police promptly descended upon George Bush Jnr. taking him out of the crowd, surrounding him with about a dozen fluoro vested officers and then escorting him over Park Street to the mobile prison coaches barricading Castlereagh Street.
Great theatre! The media swarmed and, for the benefit of the cameras, Kieran and I rushed to position the banner between the white coaches and George and his police escort.
For our troubles we were roughly handled by the police, pushed and shoved and had our banner torn down. "Don't come near my bus," a young cop snarled at Kieran.
The incident was brief and Will soon released. In the melee police had confiscated one of the telescoping plastic poles which had held the banner. This was a disappointing loss for Will because it was a memento, a handle of one of the paint rollers that had so famously graffitied "No War" on the Opera House in 2003.
We continued up Park Street at the tail end of the parade, a police line was forcing the stragglers along and rolling threateningly behind them was the newly acquired "Public Order and Riot Control" water cannon, which had cost NSW tax payers $700,000.
The crowd jeered as it passed and circled the block. That day it didn't squirt a drop. See www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHiCoASpRwE
Police lined Park Street on either side and as we passed, we inspected them as if we were Commissioners at a Police Academy passing out parade. We admired the different uniforms and noted than many had removed their identification tags.
The Sydney Morning Herald the following Monday published a rogues gallery of numberless cops. The SMH photographer had been hassled by the cops for his interest.
Subsequently the new NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, promised an inquiry but without revealing any evidence of an inquiry, he announced that the lack of identification was justified because "the officers had real concerns about the pins on badges being used against them."
On either side of the anonymous police lines in Park Street were stood lines of Sydney citizens wanting to pass through, some wanting to go south, others wanting to go north. But the police were having none of it either way.
"What have you done wrong?" I called to the prisoners of the far side of the line.
"What have you done wrong?" they called back to me.
"I have an urgent need," I said addressing one officer. "Where is a toilet?"
"At the far end of Hyde Park North," he pointed. I knew it. One pay toilet, 3,000 people.
Along this line of grim faces only one officer could acknowledge the absurdity of the situation. She was openly laughing, God bless her.
We soon discovered why the march was moving so slowly. We the prisoners of Park Street were all being herded through a small entrance into Hyde Park North whether we wanted to go there or not.
The route for the Stop Bush march had been an ongoing contention between the police and the rally organisers and it had involved a Supreme Court challenge.
In ruling that the march could not go via Martin Place and the US Consulate, the court upheld police opinion that King Street was too narrow for a march that could turn violent.
Now we were being forced into an entrance less the 5 meters across. This meant that people wanting to escape the Park had to scramble through garden beds and over stone retaining walls.
This we did, the young and the old, the fit and the frail, all in good humour, so exposing yet another police APEC lie.
In the Park near the Archibald Fountain, the organisers had set up a minimalist stage and PA and were once more berating the crowd with what they wanted it to believe and affirm. As if we needed to be lectured again. But for the pedagogically bent socialists this is the whole point of the exercise.
I was for getting out of there. For me, APEC protesting was done and our peaceful and artful resistance to the APEC War of Terror won.
Bob went on down to Surry Hills police headquarters to wait in solidarity with the 12 or so arrestees held in custody there. He later reported that the crowd feeling outside was great. Resistance to APEC had raised the spirit of resistance generally in Sydney.
Bob also reckoned from the stance and subdued manner of the police on duty there, that they bore a palpable sense of shame for their collective APEC excesses.
APEC had not been good for NSW police morale. Police have children in public schools and depend on the services of public hospitals like the rest of the working poor. They too knew APEC security was a wank and a waste.
In an interview by a journalist from the Northern Star on the Monday after APEC, I offered the opinion that the failure of APEC fear mongering to deter protests and the now apparent excesses of its security arrangements spelt the end of the War on Terror in this land.
The journalist was incredulous and maybe I was being preemptive. But it seems to me that the public witness of lies and fabrications is the way that such shaky illusions fall down.
A man imagines the coming of a monster and enjoins others to take elaborate and costly precautions. When the monster that never was, fails to appear, he congratulates himself and attributes its absence to his precautions. This is called monstrous delusion.
But so it is that NSW Premier Iemma, Police Minister Campbell and Police Commissioner Scipione continue to maintain that the security arrangements for APEC were necessary and successful. They point to the lack of violence at the APEC protests as their justification.
But public disbelief is vast (see the forum comments associated with Police Commisioner's dangerous name tag pins) and their joint credibility is in tatters. What an embarrassing dork Scipione now appears to be when compared to his predecessor, Ken Moroney.
And likewise the ring master of the War on Terror in this land, Prime Minister John Winston Howard, serial liar, war criminal, climate change skeptic, protector of the rich, persecutor of the poor, promoter of racism, jailer of refugees and bane of Aborigines.
Peacebus.com had targeted Howard in its anti APEC campaign with the slogan "Howard's Last Stand."
And so it was to be. As APEC drew near and the excess of its security became apparent, Howard's opinion poll ratings fell to a hopeless 18% behind his rival in the coming election.
This had nothing to do with the words or deeds of Opposition Leader Rudd who remained mute on APEC while his ALP comrades in the NSW Government competed with the feds to be tougher on security and more ruthless in stripping rights and liberties of Sydney folk.
Howard's deepening unpopularity suggested he may not even hold his own seat of Bennelong and so shaken had he become in the week before APEC that he asked his Foreign Minister to canvas his party on a leadership change. This was promptly leaked to the media.
"You can fool some of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time. But you can't fool all the people, all of the time," my late mother, Bessie Edith May nee Sumner would have told him.
Hubris is the root cause of Howard's downfall and personal tragedy.
In his ideologically driven application of neo-liberalism as his economic policy and also in his determination to subordinate Australian interests to the US alliance, he chose to be stiff and rigid. He banished the so called "wets" from power within his Party and again and again turned his back on public opinion, choosing to "tough it out" on so many unpopular issues, the Iraq War being just one.
He was a man who could never say sorry, never change his position even on the Vietnam war after all these years. "Man of Steel" was George Bush Jnr what dubbed him.
Here is what Lao Tsu would have advised. It synchs with the Ghost Dance theme.
"Men are born soft and supple;
dead they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.
Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.
The hard and the stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail."
For his supposed moment of APEC glory Howard lined up at the Opera House with the other APEC world leaders dressed in Driza-Bone coats.
They looked like a convention of undertakers, Victorian era style but sans black top hats and black crepe. And maybe they were. Let the dead dance!
How the wet gear of land degrading, water hole and creek polluting cattlemen came to be construed as a national folk dress, we may never learn. But viewing his folly one could almost hear Australians give a collective groan of embarrassment. The APEC organizers attempt at outback popularism missed its mark by a country mile.
In the days after APEC Howard announced he would continue to lead his party but would resign leadership once elected to office.
What can such dejected leadership offer the nation? I happened to see this story on BBC Tv international news and it was reported as one might the straw clutching of a drowning man.
Fact is that electoral defeat had become so certain that no-one in his Liberal Party wanted to take over the leadership from Howard. No thanks to the ALP opposition, chickens had come home to roost and would-be leaders had stepped back to let Howard be the one to wear the chicken shit.
Crashing down into ignominy was another leader of the Coalition of the Willing.
"Time wounds all heels," said the venerable John Lennon so aptly of his persecutors in the Nixon administration.
Where now Howard's much vaunted and unbeatable common touch with the Australian people?
Where now the infallible opinion making of the Murdoch media and its shock jocks?
Something is happening and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr Howard?
Do you, Mr Murdoch?
Do you, Mr Rudd?
12-18 September 2007
Graeme Dunstan before the Reinvent Democracy banner,
Ghost Dance, 7 September 2007
Protest events like the Sydney APEC Ghost Dance are not produced with the help of corporate sponsorships or governments grants. Rather they are the outcomes of friendship, generosity and kindness.
There a many who helped the Ghost Dance and here I want to acknowledge just a few.
First I want to thank my Nimbin friends Elspeth Jones, Helen Rodregiuz and Micheal Balderstone who helped paint the APEC mural for Happy Wheels and launch the Peacebus.com APEC campaign in Nimbin.
What a joy it was to be in a tropical garden making art together.
Thank you to Kieran de Silva, independent materials scientist from Wollongong University who took time off from his studies and research to be a helper and a Dharma companion on the Ghost Dance project.
And Ruth Banfield who came help us prepare the lanterns bearing lunch.
Another Nimbin friend came to Sydney to be part of the action, Anna Kowalezyk. In fact she was the only Nimbin friend to join the adventure on the ground. Anna Angel I named her after she rattled the can for Peacebus.com in Nimbin when Happy Wheels broke down in Newcastle on the way south and so raised $465 to get it rolling again.
Pip Wilson, a Bellingen friend, also became a Peacebus.com companion for the Ghost Dance and for his companionship I am deeply grateful.
A former publisher in the town when it was in its hippy heyday and now recently returned, he persevered in the face of apathy and fear in the now gentrified Bellingen to raise awareness of shadows of APEC. "Best we can" became our watch words.
Not only did Pip help promote the Ghost Dance as a proficient web blogger, he also came to Sydney bearing some 20 cardboard skellies and served as a loyal lieutenant, giving hands on help and timely advice on the night.
Many of the photos above have been contributed by Pip.
And talking of photos, the Ghost Dance was blessed to have the support of Nick McGrath, a student of photojournalism from Geelong, Victoria. He had read about the Ghost Dance on the web and at his own expense he flew to Sydney to document it.
The fruit is the excellent photo record above.
In his own words: "I felt Ghost Dance was important enough to fly to Sydney
was becasue I recognised the symbolic nature of the living dead...I
have been living like a ghost myself, but from the experience of my
week in Sydney meeting people who were willing to take a stand for
life (such as yourself), I have found the courage to put myself out
there again and be willing to give something of myself for others.
Thanks Graeme !!"
Gratitude to Bob Cunii who gave me refuge in his Newtown house and set it up for me as a Ghost Dance making workshop. Bob, ever energetic, capable and committed, was my right hand man and the best of mates through out the preparations and the production.
Summons to a court appearance in West Wyalong (500 km west) on 30 August and Happy Wheels lame and my driving license temporarily suspended (see story), I was facing a three to four day trip by public transport to get there and back again. Hearing this Bob said without hesitation, "I will drive you there and stand beside you in the court." Such friends are rare and precious.
Finally I want to acknowledge to help Snr Sgt Andrew Lahey gave with police liaison during the preparations. Ever respectful and ever courteous, he steered me through calm waters when all about they was fear mongering and over reaction in the ranks of senior police.