BY SERKAN OZTURK
A storm of debate has ignited over whether the ANZACs really died “for our freedoms” after a DJ was arrested and charged for offensive behaviour. Joe Mehkael, a.k.a Smokin’ Joe held a one-man protest at this year’s ANZAC dawn memorial service in Martin Place.
Known as the “most electrifying man in dance music today” and self-dubbed as “revolutionary warrior number one”, Mr. Mehkael was arrested just before 5.30am on the morning of Anzac Day after chanting an anti-war slogan while a military trumpeter played the Last Post.
“The courageous will never be silent as long as these laws continue senseless violence! Stop the wars! Bring peace to the world!” he shouted.
The the Merrylands resident was then taken to Surry Hills police station where he was charged with behaving in an offensive manner in a public place, and resisting an officer in the execution of duty.
Speaking with City Hub, Mr. Mehkael explained how his action was a “peaceful protest with maximum impact”.
“All that it takes for evil to prevail is for good men and women to do nothing,” he added.
At no point during Mr Mehkael’s protest did he swear or use coarse language towards any group or individual.
“Anzac Day is a celebration of war and murder,” Mr. Mehkael posted on his Facebook page after he was bailed from police custody.
“They feed you the same lies time and time again to keep you scared and supporting their new world order illuminati government, perpetual wars, and an ever-growing police state.”
Mr. Mehkael’s protest has divided opinion in the community, with some claiming ANZAC Day is sacrosanct and should not be used to hold an anti-war protest.
“Joe Mehkael – Revolutionary warrior? More like delusional fuckwit!” wrote one person onto Mr. Mehkael’s personal Facebook page.
Mr.Mehkael has received numerous violent threats in the hours and days after his protest.
Others however have highlighted the hypocrisy of arresting a person for using their freedom of speech on a day meant to commemorate sacrifices others have made for freedom.
“They fought and died so we could be free, unless you yell inappropriately, then you’re going to prison,” one person wrote on Facebook in response to Mr Mekheal’s arrest.
Another Facebook user pointed out: “Yelling “stop the war” in a public space is now a criminal offense. Need any more proof that ANZAC Day has been hijacked as a tool for spreading jingoistic authoritarianism?”
Last March, the state government introduced controversial anti-protest laws which civil liberties groups and others have labelled an expansion of police powers, at the cost of democracy and freedom of expression.
Mr. Mehkael – who happens to be a Guinness world record holder for playing the longest ever single DJ set – has been granted conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on May 18.