An heroic story of defiance in Australia.
We stood there in the icy darkness, under a sky cluttered with stars, mist swirling about us, all manoeuvring to get closer to the fire. It was just after 5 am. The sun wasn’t up yet but everyone was excited. Today we were going to break the law.
It was cold, not the cold that numbed the senses and hurt, but cold enough and I was glad that I had brought my heavy winter coat. I wore jeans, boots and my woollen black beanie. I must have looked like a dark and dangerous criminal but I didn’t feel that way.
The young guy next to me shivered and chuckled, warmed by inner passion his face was lit up as if it was Christmas morning and he had a present to open. He had bare feet and wore shorts and a t-shirt with a pointed message across the front. “LOCK the GATE”.
A score of us stood staring at the fire. It crackled and spat out small cinders as its flickering glow lit up the shadowy orange faces, wearing a smorgasbord of expressions. Someone shoved another log on the fire causing smoke and fiery micro meteors to swirl all around.
Several people were eagerly awaiting the large cast iron kettle to boil the water so they could have a hot drink as the earlier birds had used all the hot water.
“There’s more toast now.” Said a voice “and we’ve got some porridge too if you’re hungry.”
No one moved or seemed hungry. “What’s the news.” Asked a voice.
“We’re waiting for a report from the scouts.” replied another.
Yesterday we had all attended a series of workshops on how to break the law. Today we were going to do it.
It was cold and still another hour before sunrise. People stamped their feet and rubbed their hands together. One woman said “I haven’t been up this early for years.” Everyone chuckled. “Neither have I.” said another. “It’s exciting isn’t it.” Someone mentioned brass monkeys.
A vaguely human shape appeared out of the darkness. “I just got a call from one of the scouts. The police have stopped the first group. They searched the van and found our banners and locks and have taken them.”
“Dam” said someone. “Bastards.” cursed another. “What about the other group?”
“No report yet.” replied the voice.
Yesterday we had learnt a lot more about our target. It was a company, a non-living entity that has no body, no heart and no lungs. It can’t eat, drink or breathe. It can’t bleed, have emotions, hopes, fears, feel pain or die. It is real only in the sense that its name exists on a sheet of paper and that has been given the power by the laws of this land to be a person. It can hire and fire people. It can have a bank account, own property and it can destroy the land and all that lives there - legally.
It’s plan is to dig a massive hole half a kilometre deep and kilometres wide to plunder the coal hidden under a forest. To do this it will destroy thousands of hectares of trees, and native animals and suck up hundreds of millions of litres of ground water to quench its thirst. Then when it is finished it will simply walk away leaving a scar visible from the moon and a massive mountain of rubble as a tombstone for generations to ponder on their ancester's insanity.
We are going to try to stop this monstrous nonliving, unthinking, uncaring entity from destroying living trees and animals. Stop it from polluting our land and water making it unsuitable for agriculture and the farmers that live there. We are going to break the law that allows a non-living psychopathic entity to destroy life so that numbers on a bank account somewhere remote from here will look bigger and some uncaring billionaire will buy another yaught.
My hands were cold and I was feeling hungry. I left the group huddled around the fire and headed nearby to get some toast. The porridge looked interesting as it had sultanas in it. It would be sweet and fruity. I decided that toast with vegemite was a better option and returned to the group around the fire.
We shivered while watching the shadows soften as the eastern sky began to colour with gold announcing another day. We saw the greys change into myriad shades of brown and green as the dawn painted a glorious landscape around us rich with the sounds of bird life.
We felt eager and light hearted. Every one of us was an eco-warrior preparing for battle to save nature itself from the laws created by a few greedy men that wanted to destroy this vision of goodness.
“Group two have managed to get through.” Announced a voice. “The bunny is ready.”
Yesterday we had learnt all about the tactics of non-violent protesting. We learnt that everyone had a role to play. Ours was to provide a diversion to allow one of us, the bunny, to succeed.
Arrayed against us were police road blocks and helicopters waiting and watching. They probably didn’t want to be there but they had been ordered by smug politicians to protect the monster that wanted to loot, pollute and destroy the land. They were edgy like hunting hounds on a leash eagerly waiting and watching for our bunny.
“Let’s go.” Said a voice and twenty two willing souls moved off to the battle ground. We crammed into five cars and set off as a convoy.
We travelled about two kilometres and ran into the first road block. We were flagged down and asked for identification and the cars were searched but there was nothing in them. No banners, no locks, only drinks and food. We were going for a picnic we said.
The hounds were confused and worried. Where was the bunny? They radioed ahead and let us move on. Another road block, more identity checks, more searched vehicles, more confusion amongst the hounds. Where was the bunny?
A police helicopter appeared overhead and followed us watching and waiting like a hungry eagle. What were we up to? We stopped, got out of the car and spread blankets on the ground to sit on. Two police cars turned up to watch us and then another two. The raptor hovered overhead. The hounds were confused. Why were we having a picnic out here in the bush?
Then it became clear to all as we got the text. “The bunny has locked on.”
Our deception had worked. They were so intent on watching us that they had pulled off most of the hounds protecting the target. Our bunny had locked onto the company’s gate preventing their trucks from passing. It would now take hours for them to get the Police Rescue Squad to release the bunny and open the gate. We all cheered as the police cars drove off.
Another group of ordinary people from all walks of life had again non-violently slowed the destruction of this great land by corrupt politicians who make laws calling it legal to loot, pollute and destroy our national heritage.
To maintain our democracy unjust laws must be resisted and repealed. This land and its people are more important than the bottom line of a company’s profit and loss statement. Join us and help to save our beautiful land from those that would despoil it for quick profit.
Postscript . This story is largely based on a true story that happened at the Wando environmental action camp in Easter 2014 with a little poetic license thrown in. The bunny was John Ross, a businessman from the north coast of NSW and the bunny did lock on. John was arrested and will face a small fine. Every one of us can be a hero like John and more are needed to save this land from the monster largely foreign owned companies that wish to devour it.
IT'S YOUR BACK YARD...DEFEND IT!
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