Victoria Police Negotiates With Pro-Refugee Demonstrators

A search and rescue team has begun climbing the base of Melbourne’s Arts Centre to negotiate with the two women already on the centre’s loft to protest against the Nauru deportation of asylum seekers.

Hannah Patchett and Katherine Woskett, climbers by profession, began climbing the 162-metre spire at around 3:30 a.m. on Friday. They unfurled a banner reading #LetThemStay at the time when commuter rush is at its peak. The team is still far from where the protesters are positioned. However, it is believed that the two women protesters will have to face damage and trespass allegations.

The police’s rescue team aims to get there and negotiate with the protesters in their 20s, thereby helping them get down the tall building. A police spokesperson said that the crew was undertaking a safety check. Senior Sergeant Dean Delle-Vergini earlier said that the cops were climbing to the centre’s top to get to the refugee advocates and negotiate on the matter. “Search and rescue guys are here on scene, they’ve assessed the liability of going up to the tower, that would be our last resort, we’re trying to get the climbers to come down of their own free will,” he said as quoted by the ABC.

The sergeant told reporters that the protest would cause complete disruption to the stage prepared for the White Night arts event. However, he did not confirm any pressing charges to be given to the protesters. “We need to assess any damage, and there is the issue of trespass being a private building, so that will be discussed and negotiated when they come down with art gallery staff,” he said.

Yahoo News reported that it was the second time when the climbers disturbed the rush hour by reaching the top of some public infrastructure to protest against deportation of asylum seekers to Nauru. On February 11, the couple suspended themselves from the Yarra Bend Road overpass located on the Eastern freeway.

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