On Saturday July 4, 3000 residents in 9 Public Housing Estates across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne were placed on immediate lock-down with little notice and with a heavy police presence.
500 police have been stationed on every floor of the towers from 4pm. This equates to 1 police officer per 6 residents. Residents received no warning, and have been denied the chance to get food and medical supplies to sustain them for the lockdown period.
Many residents are migrants, immigrants or do not speak English. Blessing Bags acknowledges the class and racial elements of this decision. We reject this approach of over-policing public housing residents, and support the residents’ demands:
We demand we are not stopped from leaving our homes for four reasons: work or education, exercise, medical care or caregiving, or shopping for supplies
We demand the removal of all police officers from the buildings and a maximum of 2 police officers present in our community
We demand rent beginning 5 July be suspended until further notice, and any residents who have automated pay to be refunded immediately
We demand a testing station without police presence within walking distance from lockdown buildings
We demand transparency and immediate transfer of fund to residence raised by entities namely Victorian Trades Hall.
We acknowledge the need to lockdown residents in COVID-high areas. However, this should be met with a public health response, with adequate time for resident’s to prepare.