Subject: From a (Hawthorn) "hostage"

Sunday 19th July 1998

Well, technically, it is probably from one who was unlawfully imprisoned at the Hawthorn Town Hall by the mob. The reason for this is that we could not leave with any safety for several hours after the meeting until most of the mob dispersed.

The worst part was the incredible attitude of the police. In hindsight, they were obviously told to make things awkward for PHON supporters to get in. I thought it strange when I arrived that a police officer told me to go to the other side of the barricade. When I went around the mob and pushed my way in there, there was no break in the barricade and the line of police to enter. Curiously, a man in the mob at the barricade told me to go around to the back, where entrance was undramatic one hour before the meeting was due to start. But within 15 minutes people were coming in there too who had been punched, screamed at and jostled... even elderly women. There was even a report inside that one person had been stabbed but this has not been subsequently confirmed. Nevertheless, it did not help the frame of mind of those there at the time.

Above right: 87 year old One Nation guest, Wally Dunlop, emerges bleeding from the violent crowd.

Then the police inspector came in and said over the microphone that, since Pauline was not coming, if we disbanded the meeting immediately, the mob said we would be let out unmolested. Great. He really was the spokesman for the mob. Robyn Spencer called for a vote. Unanimously the audience chose to stay and hold the meeting without Pauline. Being an old solid building, the mob screaming outside was hardly heard inside... a point to remember for future selection of venues for meetings.

Afterwards, when most of the mob had dispersed because of the cold near 8pm, we were led out in half-dozen bunches with police either side. We were spat at, yelled at and had our photos taken. The young girls stood out as the worst. They had all been tutored by the manual reproduced in Monday's ANOTD. It is quite understandable that some people would get very frightened by this. Afterwards I did react angrily but then realised something. Whilst emotionally one would like to get some revenge after such an experience, it is very important that we keep the extreme-right gangs away as protectors in lieu of the police since that is what the media and our other enemies want, of course. Oddly, the most vicious thug outside, who was caught by the TV and print media, looked like a skin head. One Melbourne station actually interviewed him!!

If someone told me this whole story, I would find it hard to believe, but there were several hundred PHON supporters there who can back it up. The sadest anecdote was a middle aged women begging the police inspector near the door for some news of her aged father. They had been separated in the mellee coming in and he had recently had surgery to his knees. She could not get a report from the police for three hours and was naturally very distraught.

Barry M.

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