“Queensland Police Service always puts community first”
– Labor Government Police Minister, Mark Ryan
Police assault unionist standing up for refugee rights
Footage shows Senior Constable David Giddins (badge number 7763) assaulting people trying to give first aid to man – wearing an NTEU union cap* – Officer Giddins hit the man on the side of the face — who was now bleeding from the ear on the ground in front of him. His victim then suffered a cardiac arrest on the spot while Giddins did his best to prevent onlookers from giving the man first aid.
Giddins continually assaulted several other people and attempted to stop cameras from filming the incident – slapping one camera to the ground in the process – Giddins name and badge number were clear on that camera.
That afternoon on 25 October 2020, Acting Police Assistant Commissioner, Brian Conners, said in a press conference that he believed the actions of the officer were “appropriate“.
Senior police then issued a false statement claiming that the man did not require medical assistance. This was despite the man being admitted soon after to the emergency ward of the Mater Hospital where he spent spent many hours undergoing tests that revealed his cardiac arrest. The assault by Senior Constable David Giddins resulted in the man having life threatening injuries at the scene for which he is having ongoing treatment 12 months later.
Please note that I am aware that these police did not act alone. Police named were not part of some rogue element. They acted with full support from their superiors in the Queensland Police Force. Be mindful also that this podcast is not some plaintive plea to the Minister for justice. All the facts documented in this piece are on the public record. None of the individuals concerned have approached me to take up the savage treatment metered out to them by police. I am unsurprised that given the gravity of the injustice described below that police did not follow up the incident described in Man Down at KP Prison. Clearly I am suspicious of the role played by the Minister for Police. Given the transparent lies promulgated by senior police in this matter follow up should have been taken by the mainstream press. I made a report of the incident on public radio 4ZZZ as long ago Fri 30 Oct 2020 on Paradigm Shift: Australia’s ‘Mare Nostrum’ for refugees yet the serious material raised in the broadcast by Michael McNally (NTEU) and Ian Rintoul (RAC) was universally ignored.
A video on social media shows the man standing alone before Qld Senior Constable David Giddins (Public “Safety” Response Team) cowardly punches him from behind. Giddins is a repeat offender having menaced protestors outside the Kangaroo Point prison set up by Immigration Minister Dutton. The Queensland Government has come out against the protestors on several occasions. Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles who has been vocal on the refugee protests is a former office bearer with the Public Sector Union, Together. Miles has been the Labor member for Murrumba in the Queensland Legislative Assembly since 2017.
What appears to have happened is that the police offcier runs up, hits and pushes the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) member to the ground. Another refugee activist wearing a Covid-19 safety mask tries to protect his comrade on the ground. A melee ensues and the crown begins to chant “all cops are bastards” and they push police away as they attempt to arrest the man.
Response from Senior Police
A police spokesperson claims police are investigating policeman Giddins.
In a Pythonesque moment at a press conference following the assault by police officer Giddins, a/Assistant Commissioner Brian Conners calmly stated:
“It certainly doesn’t appear to us that it (the assault) was what it appeared to be under the context that it was shown to be (by the video footage).“ Digging himself an even bigger hole, the Assistant Commissioner then went on to blame the camera angles of the footage taken by witnesses for making something that appeared to be an assault to actually confirm that it was an assault.
Quite a lot of footage of the incident was taken at the scene.
Refugee Solidarity Meanjin issued the following statement:
“New footage of Senior Constable David Giddins (badge number 7763) assaulting the people trying to give first aid to the person he’d just coward punched—who was now bleeding from the ear on the ground in front of him.
Giddins also assaults several other people and attempts to stop cameras from filming his name and badge number close up.At one point Giddins slaps a phone camera to the ground. Yet Acting Assistant Commissioner Brian Conners said in a press conference that he believed the actions of the officer were “appropriate“.”
Response from unionist who was assaulted by Giddins
“We should never lose sight of the fact that the violence inflicted on the minds and bodies of the Kangaroo Point and BIDA (sic, BITA = Brisbane Immigration Transit Centre) refugees for more than seven years is a crime infinitely more harmful. Their fortitude and resistance in the face of this brutality is astounding and an inspiration to all of us. … It is, in the end, a political strategy. Cops are used against us when we act in ways that show we refuse to accept and be weakened by concocted divisions based on nationality, race and religion.“
“The frenzied behaviour of the cop who king hit me represents the face of the boss class when those ideas start to break down. He is part of the establishment’s last line of defence. Which is all the more reason for us to keep going. Our friends inside Kangaroo Point prison and BIDA deserve nothing less. See everyone at the action on Friday” … https://www.facebook.com/events/635438127076428/
Senior police claimed after the assault that the demonstration outside the Kangaroo Point Hotel/Prison was unlawful. This is demonstrably false. The Queensland Peaceful Assembly Act 1992 clearly permits such protests.
Kangaroo Point Prison
Over 100 refugees are housed in squalid conditions, locked up in Kangaroo Point Detention centre 24/7. Many have been in detention for over 8 years.
They were locked up 24/7 in Kangaroo Point Prison since the introduction of the Medevac Laws were introduced. The landmark Medevac Bill was passed in early 2019.
What is Medevac?
The Medevac Bill is a law that was passed by the Australian Government providing critically sick refugees and people seeking asylum held in offshore detention a pathway to be transferred to Australia for urgent medical treatment. To receive medical evacuation to Australia, two independent Australian doctors must recommend for the sick refugees temporary transfer to Australia and agree that appropriate treatment cannot be provided while the person is in offshore detention in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru.
Before the passing of the Medevac Bill and subsequent formation of the Medevac Group, sick refugees were waiting an average of 2 years (in some cases up to 5 years) for transfer to Australia for medical treatment. The Medevac law ensures there is no longer political interference with the medical assessment and application process to evacuate people on the grounds of urgent medical transfer.
Media Response to the bashing
Media coverage of the refugee solidarity actions at the Kangaroo Point Hotel/Prison have been patchy and often misleading. There are two governments at play, the federal government that repealed the Medevac laws and the state government that passed the Peaceful Assemblies Act 1992.
The Guardian reporter said the victim of police assault was wearing ‘a purple baseball cap’ in his report of the incident. In fact the man was wearing a National Tertiary Education Union cap. This is a salient fact because it shows that unions have been represented at the protests – including the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), the NTEU, the Retail and Fast Food Workers union.
The Guardian went on to report that the unionist “is seen in the video grabbing at a security fence seconds before a person who appears to be a police officer approaches from behind and appears to punch him.” That is not what the video shows. The unionist walks away from the fence and only then does police officer Giddins attack him knocking him to the ground with sufficient force that he later required medical assistance at a local hospital. Giddins is identified in another video moments after assaulting the man on the ground and bystanders who are trying to film his badge number.
Union response to the assault
Michael McNally, the State Secretary of the NTEU had this to say about the brutal assault on their member (WBT has redacted the name of the man assaulted by police in case the QPS seeks reprisal against the man now suffering from a heart condition) :
“Footage has circulated on social media of a National Tertiary Education Union member being assaulted by a police officer at the Kangaroo Point refugee rally on Sunday afternoon. The man, Xxx Xxxxx, a 56-year-old university librarian, is seen holding a fence when a police officer violently attacks him. Xxx was hospitalised overnight and released from the Mater on Monday afternoon.
“I was shocked and appalled to see Xxx attacked like that. The footage is really short and you can’t see what is happening before the incident, but there is no possible excuse for this excessive use of force.”
“Xxx just appears to be holding the fence when he is attacked from behind, while not apparently constituting a threat to anyone.”
“Xxx has been protesting for a long time against the festering sore that has been created by the indefinite detention of refugees in terrible conditions.”
“It’s totally inappropriate that they are locked up in an inner-city motel that’s not fit for purpose. I bet that the police don’t want to have to be there either, though that’s no excuse for violence. It’s a toxic situation created by inhumane border protection policy.” – [Media Release: Posted 27 October 2020 by Michael Evans (NTEU National Office)]
Labor Party Government response
The Labor Party-in-government has done nothing about this serious assault by Snr Cnst David Giddins. At his own media conference the victim of police assault responded to the lies told by a/Assistant Commissioner Brian Conners. The victim took no further action after that press conference. He did so for medical reasons. Also he subsequently received legal advice and concluded he had little chance of succeeding with a complaint.
The University Librarian has received no further communication from the Queensland Police Service (QPS) since the incident.
Police Minister Mark Ryan claims that the “Queensland Police Service always puts community first.”
The minister has done nothing despite there being an alarming rise in lawlessness by police. Especially when confronted by peaceful demonstrations. Police have targetted other activists including an incident where a police constable harassed local councillor Jonathan Sri for a number of years because of his support for refugees and first nations people.
It is time to ask who pays the piper in government in Queensland.
Original report – 28 October 2020
Updated one year later on 23 October 2021