During a quieter period of our protest against the TPPA negotiations a group of us decided to walk along the Yarra do bridge-drops with our largest anti-TPPA banner. However, as we were making our way to the river we were given a tip off that the United States delegates were having a working lunch at the Hilton restaurant right next to us. Before the police or hotel security could block us off from the restaurant we gathered by the windows surrounding their table and let the delegates know we were watching.
The striped pattern along one glass wall and the reflection of the Exhibition Centre’s columns in the other wall made the corner of the restaurant the delegates were dining in look rather like a cage; a fitting environs for those inside. We had been warned off banging against the glass during the earlier action (because it kills the fish) so we refrained from doing so against the restaurant’s windows but we made ourselves heard in other ways.
Shouting gave way to chants and when the police arrived to keep an eye on us we pulled out the loudhailer. Yikes was first, using the loudhailer to make noises that would make angry cats envious and from there it was passed around while other comrades handed out flyers to passers-by who were intrigued by what was going on.
One Occupier who had copped a bit of ribbing for sleeping in and missing the first action of the day managed to more than make up for it by being barred from the hotel restaurant for buying a coffee – he had employed that wonderful Occupy tactic of ‘looking like a normal person’ to walk straight into the restaurant, order his coffee and have a chat with a few of the delegates inside. When told by one diner that “he had ruined [his] lunch”, the Occupier responded by declaring that the TPPA would ruin more than his lunch if it was passed.
Scott, or ‘John’ to the police, was pulled aside when he emerged from the restaurant and informed by a policeman decked out in riot gear that he had been banned from the restaurant. The officer then tried to get ‘John’ to prove his identity but he knew his rights and refused, leaving the officer no option but to back down.
After about an hour and a half of harassing the delegates we decided to move on to our original task of showing off our banner and made our way to the Yarra. Starting at the Convention Centre footbridge we hung the banner over each bridge leading up the Yarra and made our way to Fed Square with Nick Carson speaking to the public via loudhailer at each stop.