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Night 6 at the Grafton Jail

Night four at the Grafton Jail picket line
Night four at the Grafton Jail picket line Debrah Novak

12.40pm

AT midnight Sharryn Usher gave a brief to the picket line.

She said the trucks will come some time between now and 11.30am and we will know 15 minutes before they are due.

It is understood there will be 40 public order and riot police, though they aren't expected to be kitted out in full riot gear. They will block the path for the trucks and the plan is for the crowd to gather on the other side of Hoof St from the jail where they will link arms, turn their backs and hang their heads in shame at the decision.

It will take more than two hours for the trucks to load the prisoners. In that time the prison officers will go and put on their uniforms while the rest at the protest will spend some time cleaning up the camp.

The prison officers plan to form a guard of honour as the trucks leave. A piper will play for their last ceremony.

Sharryn insisted the protest had to be peaceful and that the crowd should remain silent as the trucks pass.

Anyone who wants to attend this protest should come now and wait it out to avoid any kind of rush or confusion when the trucks come.

She will give another brief at 2am if the trucks don't come before then.

Some have gone to sleep for the night, others are gathered round the fire chatting about the situation in which we find ourselves.

Another two police cars have passed since I started typing this post. We can only pressume the race goers are behaving themselves.

When it starts, updates will be mostly through our Facebook page as I'll be on the move. Like us on Facebook and follow our stream.

 

11.13pm

The mood on the front line is the most sombre it has been.

There won't be much sleep tonight and picket line organisers are doing updates to those gathered every two hours.

The police are patrolling regularly, which seems out of place in such a peaceful place.

I wonder how the Hoof St entrance will look tomorrow and what will happen when the prisoner trucks and their accompanying riot squad arrives.

The plan that's been agreed on is a peaceful one, to allow the trucks entry to pick up the prisoners but to stand across the street. Organisers say the crowd will then turn their backs in a peaceful yet symbolic protest.

There's talk of the jail workers forming some kind of guard of honour too.

That's the plan but who knows what will happen?

I wonder whether by the time the rest of Grafton wakes the camp, signs, fires and people will be gone.

Then what comes next? I think that's the reason for the sombre mood. After the elation on Sunday when the trucks turned around, the reality of losing this hard fought battle is setting in.

Another police patrol goes by and a momentary flash of humour when a couple of people round the fire jest, "move on, move on," to the car.

To sleep, or not to sleep ....

 

12.30pm

SHANE O'BRIEN talks to the picket line. He says public order and riot squads are on the way. The unions, mayor, chamber of commerce have met with police for advice.

The feeling is they will come tomorrow. The government will not reverse its decision. The message is for the picket line to remain disciplined, respectful and strong. Video should be up in half an hour or so on our web page.

JOHN Robertson told a crowd in front of Grafton Jail if the Labor Government were elected it would not close the jail and it would give first preference for new jobs to any of the employees who are set to lose their positions.

 

8.15am

Debrah Novak interviews John Robertson.

 

6.46am

GOOD morning world! It's pretty chilly with a damp mist and there's still no sign of any movement.

At 5am we awoke to whistles and yells.

"The trucks! The trucks! Quick everybody!" and bodies flew toward their positions at the jail entrance.

I'm not sure whether we were thankful or not when it transpired said vehicle was a garbage truck. It was a good drill all the same.

NSW Labor leader John Robertson has arrived back on scene. I'm not really in the mood to talk to politicians of any sort but we'll grab him for a word after Deb boils the billy again.

 

1.41am

THERE are still about 50-60 people camped out at the Hoof St entrance to Grafton Jail and another camp is still in place at the other entrance.

Some are trying to get sleep in cars, swags, chairs and tents, while other quietly chat round the fire, though it got a little more lively when Mick from Grafton Hotel sent some prawns to feed the troops.

Deb and I are across the road in our own little camp, with a swag, sleeping bag, laptops and cameras at the ready. We've had a cuppa, lots of chat and it seems like it will be a pretty quiet night at the front line.

NSW Labor leader John Robertson was at the picket line earlier tonight.

It's understood a riot squad will be called to Grafton for when the prison trucks arrive. It's hard to imagine why such force would be needed. The front liners have remained solid but always dignified. Why would such heavy handed tactics be necessary?

We should get some shut eye but if anything happens we will keep you posted.

Topics:  grafton jail, picket line


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