The Save The Palace protest turned ugly in Melbourne on Thursday when protesters were attacked while demonstrating the unauthorised destruction of Melbourne venue The Palace in Bourke Street.
Developers at the site starting ripping up the inside of the heritage building on Thursday without council approval. Within hours the inside of the 1912 Edwardian theatre had been reduced to rubble.
Melbourne City Council is seeking an emergency protection order for the building but developers have been quick and brutal in the destruction of the building.
Save The Palace protesters were physically abused when they tried to protest the destruction.
Witness Ben Mathews captured footage of the abuse. “Here’s some video from the Save The Palace protest last night which unfortunately turned ugly. This clearly shows the 3 aggressors verbally and physically assaulting save the palace demonstrators,” Ben sent Noise11.
“This one shows one of them trying to steal/damage the equipment,” he said.
“And the last one has one of them clearly stating he’s there ‘protesting against anti development fuckheads’ which is a clear indication they were there on behalf of the developer promoting violence,” Ben told Noise11.
Ben reported that, “Protestors reacted in self defense to restrain the aggressors when they were assaulting other members of the group or attempting to damage the equipment. The police arrived and one of the provokers was arrested whilst the other 2 ran away. The protest continued on peacefully”.
“It’s very unfortunate that this minority came along to promote violence at a peaceful protest. They were not there by accident and it’s very questionable whether they were sent in by the developers to promote violence and create bad PR for the Save The Palace campaign. The desperate cries of a developer losing their battle to destroy an iconic building. Much like their action to destroy the interior of The Palace weeks before a decision is made on making this a local heritage building,” he said.
Last night Melbourne City Councilor Rohan Leppert said, “This was an act of vandalism, pure and simple”.
Councilor Leppert confirmed that the owner of the building was acting outside of its legal obigations. “Clearly, the owner is trying to demolish as much heritage fabric as possible before Council considers its heritage protection planning scheme amendment on December 2,” he said.
The City of Melbourne is urgently addressing the situation. “Should the Department agree with the City of Melbourne tonight or early tomorrow, any further demolition of the Palace Theatre’s interior heritage fabric would be unequivocally illegal,” he said.