The Case against Homer – standing up for first nations

Homer, idle no more

PShift 11 Jan 2013 4zzz fm 102.1 noon on Fridays

Announcer: I attended at Roma Street magistrate’s court yesterday to hear the beginning of one of the most bizaare trials in Queensland history where the defendant is a dog.

The dog’s name is Homer. Like his namesake, the famous Greek poet, Homer is the subject of a hero cult in Musgrave Park for his diligent defence of the Sovereign tent embassy and the sacred fire.

It is untrue that Homer does not like white people; he is particularly fond of non-indigenous supporters of the Sovereign tent embassy and will submit to restraint by them. For example on the day of his arrest Homer responded to KC’s instructions and allowed himself to be place on a lead by her.

It was during the siege of Musgrave Park Homer disclosed serious resentment at the fencing off of Jagera land by Brisbane City Council and police.

Homer is well known to Brisbane City Council Rapid Response officers because Homer picked up a stick and placed it on the sacred fire on 16 May 2012. Homer was under heavy provocation by council officers and police who took down the tent embassy and arrested 32 people in support of the sacred fire. Such was his resistance to this attempted annexation of Jagera land by state and municipal authorities Homer was arrested and detained at the dog pound at Willawong. His bail conditions, in cash terms, were more severe than the 32 arrested; bail was set at $180 to have him released. From that day forward, Homer was a marked dog.

Which takes us to events of 23 December 2012 where Homer was arrested on serious charges.

Magistrate: Read out the charges against the defendant please Sergeant.

Sergeant: That on the 23rd day of December 2012 at South Brisbane in the State of Queensland one HOMER assaulted Scott Alexander ROBERTSON a public officer because Scott Alexander ROBERTSON performed a function of his office

Magistrate: What are the facts in this matter please sergeant:
At approximately 3:40 pm on Sunday the 23rd of December 2012, Police from the Woolloongabba Police Beat were en route to a job in West End when they were hailed down by Brisbane City Council Local Laws Team Leader and witness Stephen John THOMSON in Musgrave Park, South Brisbane.

THOMPSON told Police that a dog had breached local laws by erecting a tent in the park. The dog was unleashed and had been threatening passers-by.

The dog is the defendant in this matter. His name is HOMER.

THOMPSON said that as he and fellow Brisbane City Council Local Laws Officer and witness David MAGREGOR were obstructed by the defendant as they attempted to remove an embassy tent. He said that the defendant snarled at them and barked whilst behaving in a threatening manner.

Brisbane City Council Rapid Response Local Laws Officer and victim Scott ROBINSON then attended the scene to assist in collaring the dog. Whilst he attempted to capture the defendant began charging toward ROBINSON with a stick in his mouth whilst barking ferociously at him, The defendant has then struck the victim to his chest area with the stick he had retrieved from the sacred fire nearby. The victim did not sustain any injuries

Magistrate: Is there any compensation sought?

Sergeant: No your honour.

Magistrate: Please read out the facts you rely on for the second charge.

Sergeant: OBSTRUCT POLICE. Police then attempted to intervene, yelling at the defendant to stop and to drop the stick. The dog then threatened Senior Constable Alexandra PELECANOS, poking the stick towards her head and torso, walking towards her and barking as if to indicate that she should leave Musgrave Park.

Senior Constable PELECANOS retreated backwards, whilst the dog continued to bark and walk towards her with the stick in its mouth and pointing it towards her. Senior Constable PELECANOS withdrew her Taser and presented it, placing it in the armed position and giving verbal commands to stop and to drop the stick. The Taser was armed and could be seen to be aimed at the chest of the dog.

The dog has stopped walking towards Senior Constable PELECANOS, but has continued to hold the stick and refused to put it down. Senior Constable PELECANOS continued to give verbal commands to the dog to put down the stick. The defendant eventually placed down the stick. Senior Constable PELECANOS has reholstered her Taser without deployment, and the dog was restrained and taken away by the council dog catcher.

The dog was subsequently transported to the Brisbane City Council pound at Willawong and charged with this matter.

Released on cash bail of $171. A condition of bail. Not to return to Musgrave Park pending this matter being finalised before a court

Magistrate: Is the defendant represented?

Tent Embassy representative Coco Wharton: (steps forward from the back of the court). Homer is unrepresented your honour and is clearly unable to talk so may I say some words on his behalf?

Magistrate: Yes, you may.

Coco Wharton: Just this morning Homer’s owner approached the Aboriginal Legal Service for advice. The duty lawyer at the service asked him if the matter was related to the Sovereign Tent embassy to which the owner said that it was because Homer was attempting to defend the tent and the sacred fire at the time of his arrest. The duty lawyer then refused Homer legal representation stating that he would appear for him at the mention but that he had received orders from the top of the Aboriginal Legal Service not to represent Homer. He then recommended that Homer plead guilty in the indigenous court because they would understand why he did what he did. I just wish to place on record that in the circumstances we do not wish to have Homer represented by an Aboriginal legal Aid scheme that helps put Murris in jail.

Magistrate: Then what do you propose?

Coco: An adjournment to seek legal advice on behalf of Homer.

Magistrate: I will adjourn the matter on the same bail conditions till 15 February 2013. Next matter Sergeant…

Homer’s written defence to hand up to magistrate: The city council had no business on tent embassy land, the embassy is on deed-of-grant-in-trust land that was defined as being for an aboriginal purpose and no other purpose whatsoever. The land is specified on the title deed as land in fee simple, it is not a public park and therefore not under the jurisdiction of the Brisbane City Council, it is under the control of Arts Queensland.

Secondly, the police have no right to require that Homer leave the park where for the term of his life he has always roamed unfettered by seasons or weather conditions. In an ironic twist, Paniyri a cultural festival from the country which produced Homer, haloumi, honey puffs, Socrates, Plato and the famous Zorba was used as an excuse to banish Homer, the dog. Because of his name, Homer feels a certain affiliation with the Greek festival but thought both Paniyiri and the embassy could co-exist on that weekend of mid-May.

It is our  submission that attempts by police to arrest and take Homer from his country was unlawful because it is a misuse of police move-on powers to take Homer from the park.

Finally Homer is not a stupid dog and would not endanger his own life by challenging a police officer armed with a taser.

Ian Curr
11 Jan 2013

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