Police Brutality at Sydney’s LGBT Mardi Gras Sparks Controversy
According to Australian media outlets, New South Wales police have been accused of using extreme and forceful methods during the city’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a video recorded at the event has surfaced and shows "an unidentified reveller in handcuffs being thrown to the ground by a policeman, who then stands on the man’s back."
The article goes on to say that the clip isn’t clear on "what happened immediately before the man is thrown to the ground and it is not known why the man first came to the attention of police."
A spokesperson for the NSW police told the newspaper they are aware of the footage and they have launched an investigation. Still, leaders in the LGBT community are concerned over the incident.
"I’ll be calling for an investigation," said the state MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich. "From what we can see it does appear to be heavy handed and extremely concerning."
The chair of this year’s Mardi Gras said he wants to speak with police about the incident.
"I’ve just seen the video myself and obviously have grave concerns," Peter Urmson said. "We’re not gonna let this get swept under the carpet."
The article points out the video was uploaded online by user SydneyMardiGras2013 and claims that the clip was recorded around 11:30 pm on Saturday. The video also shows bystanders yelling, "We just saw you whack his head against the ground" and "His blood is on the ground." One officer can be heard telling the recorder to "stop filming mate" and when he asked why, the officer said, "Because I said."
The YouTube user writes, "I was a press photographer for the parade, walking along the backstreets shortly after it had concluded between 11pm and 11:30pm, we heard a man screaming repeatedly for help.
"Walking over we saw him being restrained by two police officers with another 4 in close proximity, he was repeatedly asking them ’What have I done wrong?’ which they would not respond, all they would say was ’you are under arrest.’"
The Australian website Same Same reports on the incident and says Bryn Hutchinson, 32, was allegedly kicked and stomped on after he ignored police officers’ warnings to not cross the street.
"I can’t remember if he said anything more, but basically it was a verbal interchange and there was no physical contact," he told the publication. "Then I was grabbed from behind by several police officers and then thrown onto the ground on my back. Then another police officer was leaning over me and threatening to charge me. I don’t know what he wanted to charge me with. I just kept saying I wanted to simply cross the road."
He also told the Herald he was "kicked several times" and that "he was handcuffed and had my face pushed into the ground."
Watch the clip below (warning it’s graphic):