About 200 protesters forced the first meeting of the new Inner West Council in Sydney on Tuesday evening to shut down.
Protesters are angry at the WestConnex project and the New South Wales government’s decision to combine the Ashfield, Leichhadt and Marrickville councils into one unit.
They made their frustrations known during the meeting at Petersham, drowning West Council administrator Richard Pearson with chants “stop WestConnex” and “out” as he left the meeting, according to ABC News.
“All those councils have been shut down and replaced by [Premier Mike] Baird’s handpicked stooge,” Pauline Lockie, the spokesperson for the WestConnex Action Group, said.
“We have no doubt that it’s been designed to remove the community’s voice and to try and remove opposition to these projects.” Lockie added that residents do not want to acknowledge the new council. He added that the protests will go on.
As Pearson was escorted out of the chamber by the police, a woman spat at him and another man grabbed hold of his council documents and iPad and threw them away.
Former mayors and councilors who were removed from the councils that were dismissed grabbed the microphone. They declared that until Braid reinstates them, the Inner West Council will be deemed “ungovernable.”
Right before the meeting started, Pearson spoke about how he would continue to support the community’s opposition to the project and admitted to being upset about the accusations that he wouldn’t do so.
“That does insult my integrity because you know I’m certainly not anybody’s puppet,” Pearson said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
A vote on the creation of an implementation advisory group and local representation committee involving paid former mayors and councilors was supposed to take place on the first Inner West Council meeting.
Protesters wanted to make sure that no meeting would resume and urged the crowd to stay in the building until it would be officially shut down.