AN EXCERPT FROM MAY:
UNIVERSITY MAYHEM, MAYBE
On May 6th, the students from the University of Sydney were
scheduled to hold their annual Commemoration Day Procession. This w
as often a fun-filled
event where a procession of about 50 floats was permitted to proceed from the University for a distance of four miles, through
the city, and down to Sydney’s Circular Quay. The floats were generally of a satirical nature, and were often very clever. As the parade moved along, hordes of volunteers shook brass cans in the faces of
spectators, and asked for donations to some worthy cause. The conduct of most
students was always silly, and in most years, quite inoffensive.
This year, it
got off to a bad start the night before when a harbour cruise of 1,200 got out of hand.
When it returned to the Quay, six of them were arrested, 10 were treated for cuts from flying glass and two were admitted
to hospital. Thirty policemen and six ambulances met the ferry.
This was a bad
sign for tomorrow. For the students, they started the day with raised antagonism
towards the police. For the cops, they thought that this was one of those inevitable
years where there might be something that the Press would call a riot. So what they did was to move the procession along quickly,
and at such a pace that the students claimed that it was impossible for their foot-soldiers to collect money. So hackles were raised all round.
When the procession
finished, students spread through the city, and some got up to mischief over the next few hours. Some gathered outside the US Embassy, and chanted and held slogans demanding human rights for US blacks.
The police tried to move them on and the usual scuffles broke out, and charges of police brutality were popular for while. Overnight, the Cenotaph was “violated” by a clothesline stretching from
one end of the Cenotaph to the other, covered in women’s underclothing. The line was fastened to a bronze soldier on
one side and a sailor on the other. An old umbrella was pushed under the arm
of the soldier. There were other incidents, and most of them were as severe as those reported above.
of Sydney did not like what they read in the papers the following day. The papers
were full of indignation for days in what was the biggest Letters barrage of the year. I can offer you only a small sample....
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