Van-jumping activist in $10k strife
AN activist who jumped on the roof of a van transporting asylum seekers during a protest at Kangaroo Point last week has been accused of causing more than $10,000 of damage to the vehicle.
Jarrah Robert Kershaw, 23, was part of a group of protesters who gathered last Thursday outside a Brisbane hotel where at least 100 refugees are being held.
Protesters condemning the treatment of asylum seekers have gathered at the facility several times over recent days including outspoken Brisbane Greens councillor Jonathan Sri who was arrested on Saturday and charged with contravening the direction of a police officer.
Cr Sri today also faced the Brisbane Magistrates Court where prosecutors dropped the charge against him and a bail condition that had prohibited him from returning to within 200m of the Kangaroo Point refugee accommodation.
"QPS confirmed today that not only are they dropping the charge against me, but they are also reviewing the charge against police liaison volunteer Jarrah Kershaw and dropping the charge against protest organiser Dane de Leon, who was wrongfully arrested on Monday simply for standing on a footpath," Cr Sri said.
"The fact that protest organisers have been arrested and charged without justification shows that this is not a one-off mistake, but a deliberate strategy by the police to suppress peaceful protest regarding the detention of refugees.
"I'm respectfully asking Queensland Police to apologise for the significant reputational damage, time, money and stress this injustice has cost me and the protest organisers."
Cr Sri said he condemned the "undemocratic criminalisation of peaceful protest"
"It's obvious that the government doesn't want residents to protest about the unjustifiable indefinite detention of the refugees held at Kangaroo Point and at BITA, but I intend to attend the next protest on Main St outside the hotel-prison this Sunday afternoon," he said.
"If the police are so ready and willing to wrongfully arrest an elected representative, it makes you wonder how they treat other more vulnerable individuals."
Police alleged Kershaw, a University of Queensland psychology student, and two others jumped on the roof of a van leaving the facility which was understood to be transporting a well-known asylum seeker on June 11.
The Brisbane Magistrates Court heard Kershaw was arrested by police yesterday, a week after the incident which was captured on video.
The university student spent the night in custody after refusing to sign bail because it included a condition prohibiting him from returning to the site of the protest.
Defence lawyer Kate Fuller told the court Kershaw wanted to plead guilty to the wilful damage of the car but the sentence was unable to go ahead due to the lack of clarity on the restitution being sought for the damage to the van which the prosecutor estimated to be between $10,000 and $15,000.
Ms Fuller applied for bail on behalf of Kershaw without the condition that he be kept from the site of ongoing protests, submitting the condition was "overly punitive" and "fall foul" of his human rights.
Magistrate Noel Nunan granted Kershaw's bail and did not restrict him from the vicinity of the protest. The case was adjourned to next month.
Originally published as Sri free, but van-jumping activist in $10k strife