Guilty of being a teenager in a public place [blogjune04]

Police news clipping, click to embiggenEarlier this evening, Channel TEN journalist Hayden Nelson tweeted this news clipping, and oh how we laughed. But beyond the laughter, there’s something quite sinister here.

This item appears to be from one of the Murdochland local suburban papers, and it reads:

Mosman police were patrolling Rawson Park on Friday night, May 30, when they spotted two teenage males standing in the darkness at about 10.30pm. Police deemed it to be suspicious and thought they may have been there to consume alcohol or drugs. The 18-year-olds stated that they were just hanging out and eating lollies. After a search nothing was found but red frogs in their pockets. The pair were moved on from the area by the officers.

I know that the Sydney North Shore suburb of Mosman is a separate planet from the rest of human society, but I seem to recall that when I was 18 years old, some time shortly before the last of the mammoths died out, the local park was about the only place you could go for a private conversation with your mates about… well, life.

Home was obviously out, because your parents were there. Shopping malls were closing, and in any event you can’t just hang around in the mall without buying something. The same goes for pubs and caf├ęs. Not everyone can afford to buy endless beverages, even in Mosman.

The increasing privatisation of public space is a problem. You can’t just walk around the Sydney Harbour Foreshore, for example, without coming under the management of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and their arbitrary rules enforced by private security guards.

The privatisation of public space even has its own story category at The Guardian.

The roads have been turned over to traffic, not people. What seats you can find to sit on are part of JCDecaux’s advertising empire masquerading as bus shelters, sited right at the edge of the road where their hoardings can be seen, rather than set back from the kerb so you can hear yourself think.

No, the local park is the place for a quiet chat about the hell of growing into adulthood.

“Hanging around” is precisely what public parks are for — and if that’s “in the darkness” it’s because the local council is either stingy with the lighting budget, or understands that it’s not actually healthy for the night to be lit up like a football stadium.

Actually no. It’s “in the darkness” because, der, that’s what happens at nighttime.

Maybe there’s more to this story than meets the eye. But as it’s reported, it seems like these two lads were “deemed to be suspicious” simply because they were teenagers outside after dark, and were asked to move on for no valid reason whatsoever, other than to cover the police officers’ embarrassment with having interfered with people going about their lawful business. And that’s wrong.

[Update 5 June 2014, 0805 AEST: In a comment below I’ve written about the law that apparently applies in this situation. It reinforces my view that what happened here was just plain wrong.]

[This is one of 30 daily posts I’m writing during Blogjune. See them all under the tag blogjune, or subscribe to the RSS feed.]

Links for 22 October 2009 through 27 October 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 22 October 2009 through 27 October 2009, published after far too long a break. I really, really do need to work out a better way of doing this…

Links for 28 August 2009 through 09 September 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 28 August 2009 through 09 September 2009, gathered automatically and then forgotten until today:

Links for 29 January 2009

Here are the web links I’ve found for 29 January 2009, posted automatically with some manual editing and lubricants.

  • Media 09: I’ll be going to this and liveblogging on 13 February. “Media 09 is a one-day international gathering of the world’s leading digital media executives and entrepreneurs, showcasing global best practice in digital media innovations. Media 09 is designed to assist you shape successful digital media content offerings, business models, and advertising appeal to make the best weather of these turbulent times.”
  • Labor’s Plan for Cyber-Safety | Australian Labor Party: This is the actual text of the ALP’s policy, as it was stated for the 2007 federal election. Note on page 5 that the policy talks about it being mandatory to “offer” a “clean feed”, not make it compulsory.
  • 2007 policy documents | Australian Labor Party: The complete official ALP policy documents for the 2007 federal election are listed under “downloads” on this page.
  • Modern Security Thinkers | Kotare: A list of current thinkers in the realm of strategy and security. Much to explore.
  • SYN: Student Youth Network: Launched in January 2003, SYN is proudly Melbourne’s only independent youth media organisation. SYN broadcasts on 90.7 FM, and has 5 hours per week on Channel 31 community TV. Plus there’s a regular email newsletter and this website. I shall explore further!
  • Netspace’s Government ISP Filtering Survey Results: When asked “Do you agree with the Federal Government’s policy to make ISP level filtering mandatory for all Australians?”, 79% of respondents said they disagreed or strongly disagreed. There were 9700+ respondents, roughly 10% of Netspace’s customer base.
  • Time Line of Mandatory ISP Filtering Proposals 2003-2006 | Electronic Frontiers Australia: An invaluable chronology of the current push for mandatory Internet filtering in Australia. It all really does seem to have started with Clive Hamilton.
  • How the Press, the Pentagon, and Even Human Rights Groups Sold Us an Army Field Manual that (Still) Sanctions Torture | AlterNet: Yes, the new edition of the US Army’s field manual still permits the torture of “unlawful enemy combatants”, that strange new category of people invented by the US to circumvent the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.