Who let the dogs out?


Passion Play, Good Friday, Byron Bay

Christ was re-crucified outside the Byron Bay Police Station on Good Friday as part of the protests against the use of cannabis sniffer dogs by police in Byron last month.

Rusty Harris, Barkers Vale permaculturalist, Timbarra hero and Rainbow Region prophet ("The Earth must be a Garden"), was acting out the passion of Jesus Christ.

On 9 March 2001, without warning or consultation, Byron police, using a cannabis-only detecting Labrador named Thor, stopped and searched in the street scores of Byron citizens and visitors. Fifty five people were found to be carrying cannabis, about 30 cautioned and the rest charged.

The sniffer dog operation followed an extensive work out by the paramilitary helicopter police of the Cannabis Eradication Squad. The Drug War had suddenly got hot in the Rainbow Region of NSW.

Amongst the arrested was Rusty Harris who was held in custody for 4 hours, abused physically and verbally by the arresting officers, charged with being in possession of 30 grams of cannabis and a pen knife and relieved of his cash, his cannabis and his knife.

Rusty was just one of many protestors expressing outrage at the police operation and the Carr government’s new Drug War offensive.

The protest action started with a rally in Apex Park (opp. Beach Hotel) Byron Bay at noon Good Friday 13 April 2001, a parade through the holiday town led by Peacebus with Rusty bearing his cross, to the Police station.

There in the front yard Rusty was crucified, a cardboard effigy of a sniffer dog was burned and some very fiery speeches were delivered from the police station veranda.

An estimated 1,500 people participated in the event and many, many more aware of it because Byron Bay at Easter is packed with visitors to the Byron Blues and Roots Festival.

The protest action was organised by Peacebus.com in collaboration with GRASS (Grass Roots Against Sniffer Squads). Rally speakers will include the Honourable Richard Jones MLC, Cr Tom Wilson, the Mayor of Bryon Shire, Sam Leonard, spokesperson for GRASS and Graeme Dunstan.


Graeme on the Bus

Protest organiser Sam Leonard  watching Paul Joseph and Lisa Yeates sing, "Lets all get stoned and get naked and lie in a great big pile"

Cannabis Dave piloting the chopper stopper

Cannabis Dave demonstrating chopper convenience

Last minute repairs to the cross by Graeme Dunstan and Michael Balderstone

Rusty and children

Elke on stilts, sprinkling cannabis over the crowd.

The crowd by the sea

more crowd, more sea and more elke on stilts.

From atop the peace bus at the start of the parade

The main street of Byron Bay, crowd estimated as somewhere between 420 and 4200 people

Holy spirit or holy smoke ?


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