Protestival Condemns #CasinoMike And 'The Nanny-State Prohibitions'

21 March 2016 | 2:08 pm | Sean MaroneyRyley Edwards

"Reclaim The Streets as a movement deliberately avoids fitting into a specific political or social definition."

In an era of over-regulated and over-privatised spaces, and therefore an ever increasing impingement upon individual liberties, Reclaim The Streets purports to stand for the people – the people of Sydney against the suits and pokie machines that apparently run it.

Last month saw 15,000 people attend Keep Sydney Open’s protest march. This protest sought to address lock-out laws and to seek a dialogue with the state government as representatives of those protestors. They condemned "Casino Mike" and the nanny-state prohibitions on Sydney’s nightlife.

Reclaim The Streets is the other side of the same coin. It is, however, primal. It champions individual liberty far more, and asks not for a place in the political discussion but demands that the streets are returned to those to whom they belong: the people. To stick with this, there were no political speeches or centralised organisation. Instead, today saw thousands of Sydneysiders mill about the numerous self-built, mobile music stages that pumped the air full of those vibes that the protestors say are being diluted.

In that historic site, a site that’s seen Sydney grow around it since settlement, the people played music and danced in sunlight.

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Saturday's only speaker took to the stage ahead of the march, as the square filled to capacity. A speaker for the Redfern Tent Embassy, Felon Mason, gave the acknowledgement of country and the only speech that the protest-festival would see. He spoke for the indigenous people’s loss of land and individual liberties. He then made the comparison that these new laws were taking similar swipes at the demographic there. "You can’t come to these rallies and cheer for us and then go home and live your lives … We don’t get to go home from this." He said these new restrictions were traditionally known colloquially as "Blackfella laws", and have now been renamed and applied to "everyone else". Addressing the mostly non-indigenous demographic, he named it a shared plight that Sydney now faces. The privatisation and regulation of previously more liberal venues is what the rally was about.

And what did these thousands of people demand? They demanded the liberty to have the fun that they wanted to have. They demanded to be able to regulate themselves and keep themselves safe. They did this with about eight stages playing anything including psytrance, triphop, deep house, techno, bass and reggae. The musical sub-cultures aligned and this was the framework from which the protestors projected their concerns.

Reclaim The Streets as a movement deliberately avoids fitting into a specific political or social definition, and as an event, was a party made up of a wide selection of the Sydney population. In the wake of Baird’s lockouts, as well as wider reductions in social freedoms, opposition has sprung up in Sydney from all walks of life. Reclaim The Streets as well as the Keep Sydney Open rally has been a clear representation of the current political attitudes of Sydneysiders and is likely to continue until the NSW government starts paying attention.