Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras splinter group wants to abolish police

Sydney's iconic Mardi Gras organisation is under siege from within after extreme left rebels planned an alternative event which calls to abolish police and legalise all drugs.

The breakaway march is the work of the Pride In Protest organisation which successfully elected two members to the Mardi Gras board last December.

The unofficial march down Oxford planned for 2pm on Saturday has been opposed by the NSW Police and is calling to legalise recreational drugs, abolish police and corrective services and end the detention of refugees.

Greens politicians at the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Picture: Nikki Short
Greens politicians at the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Picture: Nikki Short

"We do this by winning universal and inclusive health and education, job security and social services, and defunding police, ending mandatory detention, and genuinely decriminalising things like sex work and drug use that police use to incarcerate communities," the group said.

"A Mardi Gras with No Cops, No Corporations, No Conservatives! Pride without compromise, for and by the community - a free-to-attend, real Mardi Gras for the liberation of everyone!"

The organisation describes itself as "Sydney based collective of activists who campaign for refugee rights and Indigenous justice".

But former Mardi Gras board associate Katherine Wolfgramme said the rebel insurgents were professional protesters intent on sowing discord.

"They're a bunch of kids who just don't like authority, they're a bunch of troublemakers," she said.

"I predict in 20 years they will no longer be vegans from Newtown but they will be earning $200,000 a year and eating meat in the eastern suburbs."

The proposed march is in addition to an official COVID safe ticketed parade to be held on Saturday night at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

A Mardi Gras member who votes in the annual election of the board said two Pride in Protest candidates obtained a board position last year but did not understand the purpose of the parade.

Participants of the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Picture: Nikki Short
Participants of the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Picture: Nikki Short

"They care about every far left cause that is out there and I think it frustrates them that Mardi Gras as a business," he said.

"But it is run as a business because it has gone bankrupt twice. You can't run it as an organisation that tries to address every social issue which is out there. The driving force for Mardi Gras has to be looking for LGBTQ people and that is it because that is what unites us as a group.

"As soon as you start taking on asylum seeker issues or corporate issues or anti police issues, you are going to alienate people within that group."

Pride in Protest activist and Mardi Gras board member Charlie Murphy yesterday said they were elected on the premise they would be activists.

"Myself and Alex were elected to the MG board by the members of MG because we ran on an explicit platform of grassroots political activism," she said.

A spokesperson from the organisation yesterday said the NSW Police have no place in Mardi Gras.

"No amount of glitter and rainbow face paint will make up for the violence they have perpetrated, especially if they refuse to acknowledge it in the first place," the person said.

"The LGBTIQ community does not solely consist of middle class white citizens of this country. There are queer First Nations people, queer refugees, queer sex workers, and queer drug users. Excluding these people from the community is cruel and counter-productive. Black Lives Matter, drug reform, and the rights of refugees and sex workers are inseparable from queer liberation."

A NSW Police Force spokeswoman said the intention to have a rally greater than 500 people was contrary to the current Public Health Order.

"While the NSW Police Force recognise the rights of individuals and groups to exercise their rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, our first priority is - and always will be - the safety of the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.

 

Originally published as Mardi Gras splinter group wants to abolish police


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