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Vale Jon Baird

Jon Baird was a fighter.

He came out of the Democratic Rights movement in the late 1970s. Jon was a student activist at Griffith University in the anti-uranium movement and the right to march campaign (1977-79).

Like thousands of others, Jon was arrested in street marches against the state government and it was this that brought him into conflict with police and state. Some of us ended up in Boggo Road jail as a result of political charges laid by police, often at the instigation of the Special Branch led by Les Hogan.

The right-to-march movement reached out beyond the confines of isolated groups or sectarian interests – it reached the broader community in novel ways. The 418 people arrested out of a defiant march of 5,000 people on 22 October 1977 is testimony to this.

Here is Jon Baird on drums (@ 3:39) in a march against the street march ban. The march was from Griffith Uni on 31 March 1978 …

Jon used the alternative space offered by 4ZZZ to continue his activism through the Prisoners Show (originally called Inside Information).

At Griffith Uni Jon studied Modern Asian Studies under Malcolm Mackerras. As a result he took his interests in Asia to China where he taught English for many years.

Here is an event we put on in the 1980s to try to raise bail money for Jon Baird. It ended up with Task Force bashing up people and one person was badly hurt when police smashed his head against the side of the paddy wagon. Another person was charged with wilful damage to a paddy wagon was jailed but released on appeal.

May Day was always a big event in the late 1970s and 1980s in Brisbane. Here is Jon Baird with 4ZZZ crew at May Day 1984. Jon is wearing a white hat and Harley Stumm is to his right. That’s Clem Jones at far right.

I last saw Jon a couple of years ago at a function at Jagera Hall in Musgrave Park. It was a commemoration of the Land Rights struggles from the 1970s and 80s. His health was not good but his spirit was still keen.

Vale comrade.

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