Sydney’s Mardi Gras celebration may have occurred a couple weeks back, but the festival is still making headlines with an ongoing debate involving allegations of police brutality at the event against LGBT participants.
A video surfaced last week of an 18-year-old, identified as “Jackson” being violently slammed down onto the concrete by a police officer. The participant was Jamie Jackson who, at first, claimed he did nothing wrong.
The video, which has received over 1.7 million views on YouTube, showed other Mardi Gras goers, including the person taking the video, yelling for the officer to stop and attempting to get the officer’s name and badge number. Jackson, in tears, screaming he didn’t do anything, was struck by the officer and held down on the ground with no shirt on by the officer’s boot.
The Community Action Against Homophobia put together a march on Friday and a protest last Saturday against police brutality towards the LGBT community and are demanding that an apology be made to Jackson and other people brutally attacked at the 35th annual festival.
“Urgent action is needed. We are peaceful protesters objecting to police violence,” spokeswoman Cat Rose said in a press release.
With all the media attention this video has been getting, Sydney police have prepared a defense. However, new information has been made public placing Jackson in a less victimized light than first reported. People are questioning whether or not police acted inappropriately.
Jackson said in a TV interview that he was in the wrong about some of his actions and that he had been acting “silly.” Police reports said that he went up to a random woman and tickled her and after she reported the unwanted attention to police, Jackson refused arrest. A second video that has surfaced shows the 18-year-old yelling back at the police officer.
This video is being used by police to give reasons as to why such aggressive action was taken.
However, this isn’t the first act of brutality Sydney has seen from its police force. Just last year, there was controversy over the killing of a Brazilian student for stealing two packets of biscuits. The coroner said that cops took advantage of their authority over the unarmed man.
And beyond Sydney, police brutality in relation to the LGBT community has a sordid history and a sketchy present..
“Stonewalled: Police Abuse and Misconduct Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender [LGBT] People in the U.S.,” reveals the horrific stories of 170 survivors of police brutality who believed they were targed based on their sexual orientation or gender.
From vulgar name calling to aggressive physical abuse, the survivors in the book talk about feeling unsafe, and being made to feel that way by those sworn to protect them.
A transgender woman was forced by the court to wear a suit and tie when going to visit her daughter, but on her way to pick her up, she was pulled over for an expired registration.
She was called a “faggot” and in her state of shock, couldn’t move, so police officers dragged her out of the car and kicked her to the ground.
20 minutes after the attack, the woman attempted suicide.
The question of whether or not police officials are using their badges to overpower the LGBT community is still an ongoing debate among advocates and organizations.
In some cases, like that of the transgender woman, instances of police brutality are clear. But in cases like Jackson’s, where other factors are involved, when the victim may be in the wrong initially, it is impossible to gauge where an officer’s biases regarding the individual begin or end.