Hundreds of people have marched through central Sydney demanding an end to police brutality and an independent investigation into allegations of excessive force at the recent Mardi Gras.
Politicians and gay rights activists have been calling for an independent inquiry into the actions of police at Saturday’s Mardi Gras after a video emerged showing a handcuffed 18-year-old, Jamie Jackson, being thrown to the ground by an officer at the festival.
Another video shows Mr Jackson lashing out at an officer before he was restrained.
Bryn Hutchinson, 32, a gay rights campaigner, has also alleged police used excessive force against him after he crossed a road despite being told not to.
Both Mr Hutchinson and Mr Jackson have been charged with assaulting police.
An internal inquiry has commenced into the incidents, but those at the rally on Friday night were critical of police.
“Police are constantly abusing people and taking advantage of their position of power and not being held accountable for it,” Rami, 24, who didn’t wish to give his last name, said at the rally.
“It makes no sense to have police investigate police … it needs to be independent and transparent.”
Rami says he hopes police will learn that they “can’t get away with everything they do”.
“If you act outside of your power and if you take advantage of your position of power the community won’t be quiet,” he said.
Starting in Taylor Square near a pedestrian crossing painted in rainbow colours for the world-renowned gay street party, the protesters marched down Oxford Street chanting “no justice, no peace, stop violent police” before gathering in front of the Surry Hills police station.
The vocal crowd of about 1000, flanked by 40 officers, carried placards with strong messages calling on police to stop violence and for charges to be laid against the officers accused of using excessive force.
Four protesters held up a banner reading “all cops are bastards” outside the police station, which disappointed local area commander Superintendent Tony Crandell.
“I don’t think that really promoted a meaningful message,” he told reporters outside the police station.
“Other than that, the behaviour of protesters was, as expected, peaceful.”
Police tolerated the sign “in the interests of promoting peaceful protest”, he added.
A 31-year-old man who yelled abuse at officers was charged after the rally for offensive language, offensive behaviour and failing to comply with police direction, Supt Crandell said.
He added it would be premature for police to issue an apology for the treatment of Mr Jackson and Mr Hutchinson until police “understand all of the circumstances and all of context of both of those incidents”.
NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher and Premier Barry O’Farrell have both repeatedly denied the need for the inquiry to be taken out of police hands, saying oversight from the ombudsman will ensure the investigation is independent.