Saturday, January 15, 2011

Across the Border: Kings Cross: Protest

Almost 200 protesters rallied outside the Trademark Hotel in Kings Cross last night calling for an end to ''Bouncer Brutality'', following the death of 33-year-old Wilson Duque Castillo.
The father of one was involved in an altercation with bouncers outside the Trademark Hotel on December 18, and remained on life support at St Vincent's Hospital until it was switched off on January 4.
Police have yet to charge anyone with Castillo's death and have made numerous pleas for witnesses to the altercation - which ended beneath the Coca-Cola sign on Darlinghurst Road, near Red Berry Cafe - to come forward. 

Castillo's sister-in-law, Helen Novanti (pictured above), led the protest last night, which was held just metres from where he was fatally bashed.

Protesters waved placards, held candles, and chanted, ''protection not aggression'',  ''witnesses come out'' and ''the law has to change''.

Police closed off a section of Bayswater Road from 8pm to 10pm for the protest, while around 30 general duties and specialist officers kept the crowd contained within a taped off area outside the nightclub.

Earlier in the day, Kings Cross Local Area Commander Superintendent Tony Crandell held a press conference outside the police station at Fitzroy Gardens. 
Supt Crandell said anti-social behaviour would not be tolerated and police expected a peaceful vigil. 
''Whilst police respect and understand the grief of those affected by Mr Duque-Castillo's death, we are not prepared to tolerate any breaches of the peace arising from tonight's protest,'' Supt Crandell said.
''I'd appeal to anyone attending the vigil, or other persons in the vicinity of the planned protest, to act in a respectful manner and obey the lawful directions of police.''

The crowd was passionate, peaceful and well organised, carrying carefully painted placards. At one point, towards the end of the rally, the protesters walked in a line around their cordoned off area, which ran from the door of the Trademark Hotel to the tree outside Ju Ju's Japanese restaurant. 
Passers-by were encouraged to sign a petition calling for tougher penalties for violent acts committed by bouncers, frequent audits of licences issued to bouncers and audits of security companies and training organisations.

I thought it was very brave of Castillo's widow, Raquel, to attend the protest and I had to admire the fact that they held it right outside the Trademark's entrance on Bayswater Road, where her husband had been refused entry just one month earlier. Raquel's sister, Helen, took the loudspeaker, inspiring the crowd and calling for the education of bouncers and for police to charge someone over Castillo's death. Castillo's brother, Wilmer, 27, was injured during the altercation and former league star John Hopoate was charged over that assault. Hopoate pleaded not guilty in court this week. 

The protest managed to attract the attention of a number of news organisations. 

The Trademark Hotel was noticeably closed during the protest, but reopened for business shortly after 10pm. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It would appear that local Police have a very cosy relationship with the clubs and their bouncers in Kings Cross