19 May 2020 (3:00pm) – Phone from Rob McK to Snr Sgt Henry Van Andel. • I asked Henry how he was and he has had 4 weeks off but just returned. His department has spent the last 6 weeks or so diverted from regular public order duties to dealing with new arrivals from international flights, but that was changing back as restriction relaxing has seen more protests.
• I said that XR Vic was looking at easing back into protest actions and still intended to follow all COVID-19 health directions. Likely first actions would be low level rather than mass participation.
• I asked Henry about current Directions from Dep. Chief Health Officer (CHO). “Stay at Home Directions (No 6)” . He said that protest is being interpreted by VicPol as being “Recreation” so protest gatherings of up to 10 are allowed in a public place . Must still comply with all CHO directives (1.5m distance between people, groups of 10 cannot merge, time in one place must be “reasonable” not hours on end).
• The current directives could be changed again in two weeks (end of the month?).
• Mantra RAC protest . Henry said that their first protest had multiple Penalty Notices issued but the latest protest there was different because new directive allows groups of 10. RAC had a well planned system in place with 9 zones marked along the footpath with each holding a group of 10 and adequate spacing between. Marshals moved the groups along so each could stand outside to protest for a period of time. None of the groups were in proximity to any other group. Henry said he would let me know what the “reasonable” time period was at that protest.
• XR action example Bike Ride with groups of 10 separated and “exercising” with XR regalia. Henry said that would not be a problem as long as the groups were less than 10 and did not merge into a larger group.
• XR action example Intersection blocking with groups of 10. Henry at first said that Police would deal with “illegal protest” with arrest but then walked back a bit if the action was flagged ahead of time and VicPol knew of time frame and were aware ahead of time. Henry said that recent “illegal protests” (maybe the anti-shutdown ones?) were being dealt with by VicPol by using CCTV footage and searching for participants and visiting them with warnings or penalty notices.
• VicPol “Protest Liaison” team is still happening. Dedicated Protest Liaison to deal with protest groups Police Liaison before action and on the day. Interface with the commander on the day and help with communication. Henry and Jamie Templeton are on that team as well as others. Henry said team members were trained in protest liaison and are good communicators and can help with decision making during protest by talking direct to front line commander.
• Henry reminding that VicPol have a hard line on no vehicles to be part of a march or within the crowd during protest. Also amplified music equipment will need a permit from MCC before protest and that VicPol would “help with that relationship”.