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Claims of police brutality at Sydney gay Mardi Gras prompts internal investigation

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
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Police in Sydney, Australia have launched an internal investigation into the treatment of a young man at the city’s famed gay Mardi Gras on Saturday after witnesses captured footage of him being violently thrown to the ground.

Jamie Jackson, 18, was handcuffed and thrown to the ground by a policeman on Mardi Gras night after alledgedly swearing at officers.

The assistant commissioner, Mark Murdoch, said the initial charge against Jackson, was “offensive language.”

Onlookers in the video can be heard protesting and alleging that Jackson had been handled violently before witnesses started recording the incident with their cell phones.

“We just saw you whack his head against the ground,” a woman can be heard to say. “His blood is on the ground”.

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Jackson’s father said that he was “shaken” by the footage which showed his son being “thrown around like a rag doll,” reported The Guardian.

Peter Urmson, co-chair of the Mardi Gras, said the footage was “disgusting” and welcomed the investigation.

“Mardi Gras was born out of police brutality 35 years ago and it’s ironic that that night was celebration how far we’ve come as a community working together with other parts of the community. I now kind of wonder, how far have we really come?” Urmson said.

Several other men came forward Tuesday to complain of excessive force by police during Mardi Gras, including former Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) co-convenor Bryn Hutchison, who alleges he was assaulted by police when trying to cross the road following the parade, reported the Star-Observer.

Another man alleged he was assaulted by plain clothes police officers outside an afterparty when he popped chewing gum in his mouth.

He said he was slammed against a wall and choked around the neck for almost a minute while being ordered to ‘spit it out’ before being let go and handcuffed. He said police has suspected him of consuming drugs.

He alleges that he was strip-searched in a police van and that officers suggested taking him to hospital to have his stomach pumped.

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