The day had finally come, my first Melbourne Freedom rally. Although the crowd was smaller than usual as would be expected with Christmas preparations in full swing, the rally didn’t disappoint in intensity.
An a cappella rendition of Amazing Grace by local singer Amber Walker was a perfect start to the day. Chills rushed through me as I connected to the collective vibe of the people and city still noticeably hurt by record lock downs and tyrannical public policy. Tears welled in my eyes out of compassion and solidarity, it was a beautiful moment that I will never forget.
As the sun beat down, a passionate speech by a former local construction worker took direct but fair aim at Victorian police, this would go on to be one of the main themes of the day, justice! The crowd was eager to march, and before I knew it we were off heading for police headquarters and on to Flagstaff Gardens.
Unlike the festive and easy-going rallies I had been to in Brisbane, the people of Melbourne were righteously all business, and although many angry voices rang out across the sea of the brilliantly diverse crowd, the enduring love in their hearts prevailed.
As we passed the Victorian Police headquarters the crowd’s energy intensified and the chant of “You serve us” was deafening. The police held their position but those words will no doubt haunt them from this day forth. With the chants from the crowd rattling the hall of the headquarters, Nick from The Peacemakers, the group behind the event, served lawful notices to the Victorian police reclaiming the public building for the people under ‘Common law.’
Once we reached Flagstaff the tension dropped and a nostalgic festive vibe was in the air as outstanding and creatively written original music performed by an array of talented local artists took to the stage. Finally, I could rest. However just as I did, fierce freedom fighter Lyn Bennetts took to the microphone. She briefed the crowd on what had taken place at the station, then only minutes after her speech she led a small but motivated group onwards to serve more notices. To the credit of Victoria Police, with short notice, they were very accommodating of this bold and secretive move. An emotional Ms Bennetts went on to gain the attention and support of a large contingent of the crowd and we were off marching once again, this time to the Supreme and High Court buildings, then across the Yarra to the final destination of Government House. The unity in the group was beautiful to witness, and regardless of the outcome, I was excited to journey with everyone on this mission for the people.
What a way to discover the city I remember thinking, as I joined in with many of the catch cries that struck a chord. Finally approaching the Government House, the police ran ahead to form a barricade at the gates. When we arrived we were met by what ended up being about 20 or more mostly fresh-faced officers, and the “you serve us” chant re-emerged, this time visibly affecting the tired police. The notices were attached to the gates by Ms Bennetts to the elated cheers of the crowd.
I overheard the officer in charge jesting with one of the organisers saying “You aren’t marching anymore are you? Because I’ve walked 17 and a half thousand steps today and I’m done”. I could relate, feeling equally weary on my feet. Shortly after, everyone moved on except for a small group who gathered in the nearby gardens to celebrate the successful day standing up for the right to choose.
What will come of these notices is yet to be seen, but this certainly added a great ray of hope to the people who have been looking forward to the day that justice is served. Was it this day? Time will tell. From the many conversations I’ve had with people throughout the day, it’s clear that this movement is only going to build as the segregation and government overreach continues to impact more and more Victorian people.
One thing is for sure, I won’t be forgetting this day in a hurry. Thank you, Melbourne for your passionate and open hearts. I feel the revolution has only just begun!
For more information on the notices see The Velvet Revolution Australia Facebook page