DARLINGHURST POLICE STATION

Some 400 protesters gathered outside the Darlinghurst Police Station. Half a dozen uniformed cops ‘fury on their faces, hands packing their guns’ stood at the entrance to the station.[1] Over and over again the angry crowd sang ‘We shall not be moved’, ‘All we are asking is give gays a chance’ and ‘Let them go! Let them go!’ Chants may have boosted the morale of those arrested but more pressing tasks were ahead including the raising of bail. 

The police played hard ball. They were unwilling to accept bail money unless protesters were able to identify those they wanted to bail out, a task made all the more problematic by the fact that some of those arrested had provided false names to the police. As police began to release some of those they had detained, the problem of identifying those left behind became less of a challenge.

The police refused requests by doctors and lawyers to visit those they had arrested. The National Times reported on a confrontation between police and John Terry, a solicitor, after they refused him permission to enter the police station:[2]

I said, ‘My name is Terry. I am a solicitor. I wish to see the desk sergeant’. The police constable said, ‘Why? You can’t come in here’. I said ‘I wish to speak to him about the arrests at Kings Cross tonight. How many people were arrested?’ The officer said, ‘You can’t come past this doorway. If you do you will be trespassing and you will be arrested’ … Terry named two people … He said, ‘You can’t refuse me access to my client. You know what Driscoll’s case says.’ Another officer replied, ‘Look, just f- off, mate. You’re not in court now’.

At the police station, a ‘straight guy pull[ed] up in a Citroën’ and began to hurl abuse at the crowd. As he vented his ‘homophobic spleen’, he mistakenly mounted the kerb, bumping the car into a low sandstone wall. A protester yelled put, ‘Piss off, ya boring straight shit’. [3] Others applauded.

As the drama unfolded outside the police station, there was also some light relief. A short lesbian, upset at not having been taken into custody, began to hatch a plan to join her friends inside the police station. She crawled on her hands and knees in front of the police line guarding the station’s entrance. Her repeated cries of ‘Ojnk, onjk! Onjk, onjk!’ drew laughter from the crowd. For a while police ignored her, determined not to make a martyr of her until one of them broke ranks. A policeman hurled her inside the police station, the crowd applauding their new hero. To her utter disappointment, police decided not to press charges. 

[1]  Mitchell, Peter, “My first Mardi Gras: Part Two”, Capital Q, 5 February 1993, 8.

[2] National Times, 8 July 1978.

[3] Mitchell, Peter, 'My first Mardi Gras: Part Two', Capital Q, 5 February 1993, 8.