Myopic coverage of the tent embassy protest in Canberra on Australia Day painted a very different picture to what actually happened, say attendees.
Both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph told a story of violent protest and a heroic rescue.
But the City Hub spoke to University of Sydney student, Timothy Scriven, who was present at the protest.
“The tent embassy protest simply did not happen like you probably think it did.” Mr Scriven said.
“Unless you consider throwing two water bottles at the windows of a car or banging on windows violent, I saw no violence from the protestors, none.
“I did see numerous instances of pushing, shoving and snatching from police, including some very dubiously legal behaviour. The meaning of the world violence is being eroded by a media that can’t get enough of the term… there wasn’t even any property damage.”
YouTube footage has emerged in which a police officer appears to punch an indigenous protester in the face after the Prime Minister had already left.
Two days later, articles on the Telegraph’s website were still describing the incident as a ‘riot’ and coverage in both major newspapers was focused on how the confrontation started rather than the underlying problems causing such anger.
“Clearly the people in that protest felt that the embassy should and must remain, that it had not achieved its goals,” Mr Scriven said.
“Such structural causes were simply not discussed in the papers. To read some reports, one would think this protest came from a lark or a whim…standard media practice is to cover such events without the briefest explanation of underlying circumstances,” he said.
“People simply do not form a large group, yell and bang because it’s a Thursday afternoon.”
During a press conference after the protest, Aboriginal activist Barbara Shaw explained why there was such anger.
“The rest of Australia needs to come out of their comfort zone and actually realise why we are here today. And that is because human rights breaches are against us every day of the week,” Ms Shaw said.
“Aboriginal people have been struggling for years, deaths in custody, lack of housing and infrastructure, stolen generations, stolen wages for the hard earned work that aboriginal men and women throughout Australia have done. They built Australia on Aboriginal hands, blood.”
By Jason Marshall