By ALLISON HORE
A fundraiser has been set up to help pay fines for Sydney University students and staff who were arrested while protesting funding and job cuts across the campus.
Protesters gathered across the University of Sydney campus on Wednesday in opposition to government funding cuts for universities, as well as staff cutbacks at the university. In line with COVID-19 public health orders, marshals ensured that protesters gathered in groups smaller than twenty people, remained socially distanced and wore masks.
Facing off with the protesters were 100 public order riot squad officers, who also maintained social distancing.
Nine protesters who attended the protest were issued $1000 fines and one activist, Adam Adelpour, was arrested. Police allege the 34 year-old refused to comply with move on orders after police gave him several warnings.
Mr. Adelpour was released from Newtown police station on Thursday morning after refusing to agree to bail conditions which would include a personal curfew and a ban from University of Sydney campuses. He faces six months in jail or an $11,000 fine when he appears in Newtown local court on the 8th of October.
“The police’s decision to lay charges under COVID rules is a major escalation of the attack on the right to protest in NSW”, said Mr. Adelpour.
“The protest actions at Sydney University yesterday did not even breach COVID restrictions on gatherings, as protesters gathered in groups of less than 20 people, widely dispersed across campus.”
Although the protesters remained in small groups spread out across the campus, police claimed that as the groups were gathered for the same purpose it was still in breach of COVID-19 separation orders. They say that Wednesday’s protests were not authorised.
This is not the first time protesters have been arrested or fined under the COVID-19 public health orders. Earlier this month police arrested three people involved in an anti-lock down protest at Sydney’s Hyde Park. Nineteen other protesters were slapped with $1,000 fines, and a 16 year-old in attendance was issued a youth caution. At a sister protest at Olympic Park, 57 protesters were fined.
Previous funding cut protests at the university of Sydney have also been shut down by police, including the National Day of Action rally at the end of August. One hour before the rally was set to begin, police vehicles arrived and formal move-on orders were issued to the protesters that had already gathered.
Mr. Adelpour is receiving pro bono legal representation for his court case. A GoFundMe has been set up to raise money to pay the fines of the other nine protesters charged during Wednesday’s rally.
As of Monday, just under $6000 had been collected of the fundraiser’s $10,000 goal. All money raised from the GoFundMe will go towards paying fines, extra money collected will go towards related legal costs.