Police Brutality at Sydney Gay Pride Parade

At Sydney’s 2013 annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebration, 18-year-old Jamie Jackson was handcuffed and arrested for allegedly violent behavior. He was charged with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. Bystanders recorded a police officer repeatedly throwing Jackson to the ground as he pleads that he didn’t do anything wrong. An officer much larger in stature is filmed holding him by the neck, knocking him to the ground, and using his foot to pin Jackson to the street.

The video was viewed a million times in less than a week and elicited a tremendous response in Australia regarding police brutality, the right to film, and abuse against the LGBT community. A rally against police brutality took place days after the incident, and many claimed it was representative of a pattern of police abuse against the LGBT community. LGBT advocacy groups met with police and planned to write a report that police promised would be used to improve their procedures for the next year’s Mardi Gras.

A year later, the charges against Jackson for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest were withdrawn. The video was shown in court, and the judge found that police used excessive force against Jackson and ordered them to pay $39,000 for his court costs. An internal police investigation was still being conducted into Constable Leon Mixios, who had been involved in a separate case of involving excessive use of force.

Leading up to the 2014 Mardi Gras events, police stated, "Members of the LGBTIQ community may be assured that the NSW Police Force is committed to interacting appropriately with all victims of crime and has a responsibility to respond to and treat victims, and indeed all members of the community, with compassion, courtesy and respect." The state government outlined plans for dealing with community concerns of intimidating, homophobic and excessive policing during Mardi Gras.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Michael Rolik told news.com.au, "Working with the Inner City Legal Centre and ACON, we have launched the Fair Play initiative which is intended to inform people attending LGBTQI events about their rights, and Fair Play volunteer teams will also perform a monitoring role at events during the Mardi Gras season where police operation occur."

The head of government of New South Wales also signed an accord with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival designed to ensure that festival organizers and police work together to ensure appropriate policing for the event.