Extinction Rebellion defends protest punch
A GOLD Coast man marching with "non-violent" Extinction Rebellion protesters who punched a member of the public says he was only defending his fellow marchers.
But a witness to the incident down Cavill Mall in Surfers Paradise on Saturday disputes the member of the public was physical with Extinction Rebellion marchers.
News Ltd photographs show a man striking a member of the public who was unhappy with the Extinction Rebellion climate change protest down Cavill Mall in Surfers Paradise on Saturday.
Police arrested both men immediately and issued them $400 fines for public nuisance.
But the Extinction Rebellion marcher who threw the punch now claims the member of the public had become violent first: "I wanted to stop him punching anyone else. We might be nonviolent but we are not a punch bag for anyone.
The Gold Coast activist said he was "up for" verbal abuse but as soon as the man "started striking men, women and children" that was it.
However, the witness to the march disputed those claims saying the member of the public had just verbally abused the Extinction Rebellion marchers: "I don't believe he's hit anyone. He did get up in their grill but he just didn't want them their disturbing his peace and quiet."
In a statement, the Gold Coast & Hinterland Extinction Rebellion group alleged one of its members was subjected to "pushing and punching" by a member of the public.
The man went on to "attempt to smash a camera before throwing punches at random members of the crowd including women, children and the elderly", the group statement alleged.
"He engaged in this behaviour for what seemed like minutes … given the increasing threat to a diverse and vulnerable crowd, one of the Gold Coast and Hinterland members reacted by putting himself in the firing line to defend those present," the statement says.
"The heroic member was charged with a $400 fine and later released."
Three days ago, Extinction Rebellion's Sally Williams said in the Sunday Mail the punch thrown by the marcher was a "disaster": "We're non-violent protesters. This is a disaster for us."
Queensland Police confirmed the men were not charged as formal complaints were not lodged but fines were issued.
A police spokesman said a 27-year-old man and a 48-year-old man were arrested and issued with an infringement for public nuisance.
The fines were $400 and $800.