Friday, 11 August 2017

Tent city residents take down their camp

On ABC local radio this morning while I was driving home I heard that the Martin Place residents were taking down their camp voluntarily and so when I got back home I quickly put on my jacket and headed into town. It was very warm as I walked in the sun across Pyrmont Bridge and I reflected that the sudden change in temperature made everything seem a little bit strange, even the sounds I could hear. I wondered to myself how animals cope with such changes in the natural environment.

In Martin Place there was a group of people protesting against fracking and collecting signatures on sheets of yellow paper from passers-by and I talked for a while with a woman there about the gas industry before heading up to the top of the thoroughfare to where the camp has been.

The tents were mainly still in place but there was also a large pile of camping materials and milk crates placed at the bottom of the steps. Up on the section of pavement where the fountain is you could see empty space where tents had been, and I saw Lanz Priestley getting read to talk with a reporter from the ABC. I asked a man with a camera slung around his neck where the residents were going and he told me it wasn't specific yet where they would move to. "There are a few options I've heard," he said before moving away to take photos elsewhere. I stayed around to hear Lanz talk with the reporter but unlike her I couldn't hear clearly what was being said, although I did hear her ask him where people were going to go now that the camp was being dismantled. "We're looking at opening a space between two weeks and a month," said Lanz at one point.

He said that people in Martin Place are visible - turning and pointing to the Reserve Bank next to the camp and to Parliament up the street - "that's why something is happening." "This problem can only be solved nationally," he continued. I went up to Lanz after the interview had finished as he was standing next to the street kitchen and asked him where the residents were going to go. He started to say something in the high-energy way that he has but he seemed to be overwhelmed by the question. His eyes veered away toward Macquarie Street and a woman standing next to us told me to leave him alone because he had been talking to the media all morning.

Later, I saw him walking up the thoroughfare accompanied by the two policemen who had been hanging around the camp. There was also a group of trade unionists talking to the media in the square near the kitchen, some of whom held flags. Lanz would walk off to one side of the square with a few of these men later on and talk with them by the bank building. I decided there was already enough material for a blogpost and headed off to find some food.

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