Friday, July 9, 2004

Don't bash us on Saturday

The Darwin communities ongoing struggle against the Northern Territory Labor Government's 'drug house' legislation which allows police to place a 1.2 metre high fluorescent green sign on the front fence of a house or business.

Human rights activists in Darwin are concerned for their safety and the safety of the public at this week's Network Against Prohibition (NAP) Community Smoke-In for Human Rights.

Event organisers have vowed that the event will go ahead on Saturday despite the refusal of Darwin City Council to issue a permit. An appeal has been lodged with the Local Government Review Tribunal however it is not expected that the appeal will be heard before Saturday.

The Community Smoke-Ins, held regularly in Darwin's Raintree Park, form part of the Darwin communities ongoing struggle against the Northern Territory Labor Government's 'drug house' legislation which allows police to place a 1.2 metre high fluorescent green sign on the front fence of a house or business.

Once a house or business is sign-posted, police can raid the premises without a warrant whenever they like, they can conduct cavity searches on anyone on the premises and stop, question and issue restraining orders to anyone within 200 metres of the sign. No charges need to be laid and police do not need a conviction to declare a house a 'drug premises'.

Police attacked peaceful protesters at the first Community Smoke-In held in April 2002. Two activists were injured and five arrested.

Police attacked again in October 2002 provoking a mini-riot in Darwin's Smith Street Mall. Four police vehicles were damaged in the mayhem and NAP activists still face a trial for criminal damage charges later this year.

NAP spokesperson Michael Barry said "We have conducted seventeen Community Smoke-Ins since April 2002 and we have only had trouble at two of them. If police stay away we can guarantee that there will be no trouble."

"We are concerned that Council's refusal to issue a permit for our regular drug law reform event paves the way for unnecessary and unwelcome police interventions on Saturday. The police have a vested interest in drug prohibition and the 'drug house' laws and they have always been keen to stomp on NAP's drug law reform activities whenever they have the opportunity."

"Council's refusal is politically motivated and aimed at silencing vocal dissent over drug prohibition."

NAP members are on edge after a police raid on the home of NAP Coordinator Gary Meyerhoff this morning. Meyerhoff has been issued with a Cannabis Infringement Notice.

This month's Community Smoke-In has a Christmas in July theme and Santa will be taking time out from his workshop in the North Pole to support drug law reform in the Top End of Australia.

The event kicks off at 12 noon this Saturday.


Gary Meyerhoff - NAP Media Facilitator - 0415 16 2525 from overseas +61 415 16 2525 Darwin City Council - Chief Executive Officer - (08) 8930 0505 from overseas +61 8 8930 0505 Sue Bradley - NT Police Media Unit - 0417 770 686 from overseas +61 417 770 686

Further information: Network Against Prohibition NT

By NAP 9 July 04


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