To The Barricades (Or How The OSG & Parra LAC Have Pissed Me Off)

Late last night I came across this little article published in the Sydney Morning Herald of 24th September 2015:

Western Sydney Wanderers and NSW Police working through Red and Black Bloc restrictions

The management of the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Parramatta police are understood to be working their way through a series of tough restrictions on the club’s fanatical army of supporters known throughout the A-League as the Red and Black Bloc.
With less than a fortnight before the A-League kicks off, the Wanderers’ management refused to comment on the nature of the restrictions the police intend to impose on the Bloc when Fairfax Media contacted them on Thursday. However, it’s understood a document tabled to the club’s front office by the Parramatta local area command after a meeting between the two organisations in late July was aimed to prevent what the police viewed as an unruly element in the Red and Black Bloc from creating trouble.
The long list of tough restrictions the police intend to enforce when the Wanderers kick off their 2015-16 season on October 8 against Brisbane Roar include:
Banning the traditional march by the RBB through the Parramatta CBD to Pirtek Stadium;
The RBB won’t be allowed to display any banners that are considered to be provocative;
There will be a zero tolerance for swearing;
RBB supporters will be ordered to remain in their seats and to not ‘compress’ [stand shoulder-to-shoulder and jump and clap their hands above their heads ] when they chant;
Only one person, designated by the club, will be allowed to take a megaphone into the stadium; Flares will not be tolerated. The police intend to ensure the rules are followed.

The RBB generates an incredible atmosphere at A-League games through their chanting and singing. There’s even a school of thought that suggests the group ought to be considered a triumph of sorts because members of the various ethnic groups which make up Sydney’s multi-cultural western suburbs have united as one to join the RBB and support the Wanderers.

However, there has also been numerous complaints made about incidents that have involved some members of the group and the media has publicised the clashes they have had with the police over the years.

During last Anzac Day’s match against Perth, RBB supporters walked out of Pirtek Stadium at halftime in protest after pepper spray was allegedly used by police in response to a flare being set off. There were reports police were injured in the violence.

The confrontation continued outside with the supporters infuriated by what they believed was an overreaction by police. There was a newspaper report published in early 2014 which intimated while the majority of RBB fans were acknowledged as being well behaved and good supporters, there was said to be a hardcore element who police were concerned could potentially lead to criminal behaviour.

Police made it clear at the time they would not allow the formation of the old English football’s “firms” a group of hooligans who fight like-minded supporters from rival clubs. It is understood at the time police had gone to a lot of trouble to identify those with a penchant for creating trouble.

On the other hand the RBB has been widely applauded for doing socially minded exercises, such as helping to raise funds for the Blue Mountains bushfire victims.

Now putting aside a quibble here and there with some of the tendentious ‘facts’ (e.g. reports police were injured in the violence) , the nub of this article is that the NSW Police via the Parramatta LAC and the Parramatta Stadium Trust are endeavouring to put in place what can only be seen as thuggish, repressive, reactionary measures that are more about their inability to use intelligent measures against the tiny minority who may be anti-social, all within a context of a long standing tradition of victimisation of the non-Anglo-Australian soccer supporter by authority figures.

I could ramble on and on about this, however instead I have posted below a letter that I have composed and will be sending to as many relevant people and bodies as I can. If this is of use for anyone please feel free to copy, amend and use as you may wish in arguing against these potential strictures.

This is an issue anyone interested in protesting the usurping of personal and social liberties, within the context of football in this country by state authorities, hopefully should feel enraged about, and should protest vehemently.

Protest Letter on Behalf of A Concerned WSW Member