Finally, some Youth Day/NoToPope photos are up

After intermittent struggling with SubText, I've finally managed to get the photo upload functionality working on this blog (with the assistance of Live Mesh, more on that later). To this end, I've added some photos from last month's No To Pope Rally. Yes, I know it's been a month, but this site's been playing silly buggers and I had an overseas trip and everything else to deal with - quit yer whinin'.

For those who were living under a rock at the time, or have serious Short Term Memory Issues, Sydney hosted World Youth Day recently, an event more properly titled World Catholic Youth and Some Other Not So Youthful Catholics Week And A Bit. But I guess that was too much of a mouthful even for them.

So, anyway, we demonstrated. I went along as part of the contingent from Sydney Atheists to the No To Pope Coalition's Rally at Taylor Square. Along with the rational contingent, we had Raelians, Gay Activists, University groups and nutters a plenty, all primed to march down South Dowling Street to meet the Catholics at Fitzroy Street.

Getting the march started was a little disorganised, but then - as I noted at the time - we're not really the following kind. A short march down South Downling later, the police blocked the Pilgrimage route so we could pass into Moore Park and "meet the godly ones".

For the most part, it was good natured. Sydney Atheists staked out an early spot where we'd be among the first groups spotted by the pilgrims, and proceeded to welcome the pilgrims to Sydney in our own special way. There were a LOT of vacant blank looks, quite a few pilgrims though were quite hostile. The police, of course, were facing us, the protesters, which proved to be significant later on. On more than one occasion I yelled "Arrest the abusive pilgrim!". The police didn't even turn round.

One particularly weird individual tried to exorcise us with, of all things, Mount Franklin water. I'm sure Coca-Cola Amatil will be very pleased with the endorsement.

Some condoms were thrown, of course, and I was surprised at the number of pilgrims furtively retrieving them and stashing them away for later. Perhaps the message isn't all in vain after all.

Still, time ticked on and things remained for the most part jocular, until one pilgrim decided God wanted him to take some action. He strode from the parade route, straight through the police line, and laid a (fairly ineffective) punch on Stefan Joksic, who was standing a couple of feet away from me. The resulting crush was, at first, mainly protesters restraining the nutter in question, until he was wrested away by police, handcuffed, and thrown into the paddy wagon. We learned later the idiot in question is 19 years old and from Newcastle, NSW. Well done Newcastle, the only arrest of World Youth Day and it was one of yours.

The Pope's Official News OutletTM, somewhat predictably played down the incident. I can say without reservation that the article is wrong, wrong wrong. The pilgrim in question was loudly, verbally abusive, then deliberately strode into the protesters' lines and laid a punch on a protester. He didn't simply run in and run back out, and it's a matter of documented fact that the guy was abusive and violent, quite aside from being delusional about the state of reality as it stands. And News Corp wins another plaudit for news outlet most likely to obscure the real facts. Well done Tele.

Still, I got a photo published via Reuters which was picked up by a few outlets, having been lucky enough to be on the scene at the arrest.

Not long afterwards we were marshalled back through the pilgrimage route by police and made our way back to Taylor Square, where some beers were had and a good afternoon enjoyed. An excellent day's activism was had, and I went home quite happy.


posted @ Wednesday, August 20, 2008 3:00 PM

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