CLOG 2010 Report

MardiGrass Civil Liberties Observer Group 2010 Summary Report.


About this Report:

A Civil Liberties Observer Group (CLOG) was formed for this year’s MardiGrass in Nimbin. This was in response to a perception that policing practices attending the event in recent year’s had been less than optimal.

Your browser may not support display of this image. This report:

  1. Provides an introduction to the concept of Prudential Observation.
  2. Summarizes preparations made in anticipation of the event.
  3. Catalogues the activities of CLOG over the three days of the MardiGrass.
  4. Considers the observations, incidents, and reports made.
  5. Summarizes the information presented, makes various recommendations, and contrasts this years event with earlier years,
  6. & finally provides a collection of extracts from the many emails sent to the organising committee and CLOG regarding this year’s event.

Part 1. Prudential Observation? – an extract from the CLOG ‘Rules of Engagement’ Manual.


CLOG has been provided some disturbing reports regarding police behaviour at prior events (most particularly the 2009 event). The proposed observer is cognizant of actual incidents at past events including allegations regarding:

    1. arrest of individuals for
    1. drug possession and
    1. drug possession with intent, and
    2. breaches of summary offences.
    1. Arrest for public order offences.
    2. Use of sniffer dogs in ‘the public realm’ as an element of public order policing.
    3. Search of individuals and small groups of individuals by patrolling police.
    4. Search of individuals on a random basis at stationary checkpoints.
    5. Search of cars at stationary urban and remote checkpoints.
    6. Utilisation of stop and search powers without legal excuse.
    7. Harassment of traders and shopkeepers by unwarranted repeat visitation by police patrols.
    8. Unwarranted use of move on powers (LEPRA).
    9. ‘Police directions’ being used to thwart lawful recording of police operations being undertaken by third parties (or interested engaged parties) in pursuit of substantiate (existing corporeal) common law liberties.
    10. Allegations of individuals stopped at stationary roadblocks being ‘warned off’ the event.
    11. Allegations of heavy handed physical handling of and/or abusive language directed at indigenous residents and attendees by police.
    12. Allegations of heavy handed physical handling of and/or abusive language directed at particular residents of Nimbin by police.

Regardless of the fact situations underlying these many reports – the existence of the reports points to the need to inform the Police of our cognizance of these reports in the methodology of observation being utilised at this event.


The CLOG Team is taking advice from practicing legal practitioners, legal scholars, academics, and activists, on the statutes that are applicable to police behaviour at the event (LEPRA, Summary Offences, Drugs Misuse and Trafficking, Crimes, &c). According to this advice and relating to the reports of actual incidents at past events this these guidelines have been drawn up.

The CLOG team will employ Prudential Observation methods at this years MardiGrass.

What does Prudential Observation mean (in simplistic terms)?

Before the event,

    Meeting the police commanders and,

    Letting the police know who will be watching them and when

    Letting the police know why they will be watched

    Letting the police know how they will be watched

During the event,

    Watching the watchers (according to a prescribed methodology),

    Providing (3) summary reports (daily at 9pm),

After the event,

    Providing a final compendium report (to be widely distributed).

How does Prudential Observation work?

The motto of this year’s CLOG is:

all violence is counter-productive

informed observers make better coppers

better coppers make fewer arrests

It really is as simple as that.

Academic studies have demonstrated that when people are conscious of being observed they tend towards being ‘better’ behaviour.

    • When kids are supervised they are better behaved.
    • When prisoners think they are being observed (even without being able to confirm it as when peepholes, video cameras, one way glass etc are being employed) they are better behaved.
    • When Police believe they are being watched they are better behaved.

In fact, prudential observation assists police in maintaining high levels of integrity and professionalism: when the police brass can point to a credible observer group it often prompts better behavior.

The Nimbin MardiGrass 2010 CLOG will be tasked with observing and documenting police conduct in the lead-up to and during course of the event.

Principles & Practices

Prudential Observation is undertaken by:

    1. an impartial and informed group,
    2. in liaison with all interested parties,
    3. observing and documenting police activity,
    4. in a rigorous and systematic manner.
  1. an impartial and informed group,

Keep any opinions to yourself: whilst in the field CLOG operatives have no opinions and offer no judgments (they only informobserveask assess – then inscribe; see below) When observing Police engaged in their duties it is essential that observers retain a professional detachment from events and individuals being observed. CLOG (as an institution) will later provide commentary and informed assessment regarding particular events if it is deemed appropriate – individual CLOG operatives will remain passive observers in all circumstances and offer no opinion outside of formal channels.

  1. in liaison with all interested parties,

It is essential that CLOG team members retain a professional and courteous demeanor at all times with all parties; CLOG cannot demonstrate any operational bias or be perceived as being simply a ‘police bashing’ exercise. If asked about any particular event or issue by any member of the Police, Jungle Patrol, Polite Force, or any Attendee at the event, CLOG members will direct the person to the Town Hall Information Booth and will refrain from making comment.

  1. observing and documenting police activity, AND
  2. in a rigorous and systematic manner

inform – observe – ask – assess – then inscribe

1st comes the act of INFORMING those observed of the fact that they are being observed and of the methodology of observation being employed by the CLOG team. Much of this work will have been done prior to the event via our liaison channels with all interested parties. In the field CLOG members need only pass out their pre-printed CLOG InfoSheet’s and their personal CLOG Observer Identity & Info Sheet (this is to entirely obviate any difficulties that might arise relating to LEPRA s11 requests by the Police – see appended notes). These printed materials will be provided.

2nd comes OBSERVING. Prudential Observation works best when those being observed simply modify their behaviour due to the rigour of the observation. To this end it is essential that CLOG operatives attempt to be as highly visible as possible. Observe all lawful directions but do not be inhibited from shadowing the Police closely. Be polite and professional but also alert, observant, and (physically but not verbally) assertive.

3rd come the need to ASK attendees and Police for Information. Use your best judgement. We have been assured that all Police in attendance at the event will be wearing identification (name and/or number). If this identification is not apparent then CLOG team members are encouraged to request this information. All Police Force members who are not wearing identification will be photographed and then asked at frequent intervals (every 2-3 hours) both a) what their name and number is and, b) why they are not wearing identification.

4th CLOG operatives will have ASSESS each situation they encounter and use their own judgement as to whether to turn from an Observation Sheet to an Incident Sheet; once this decision is made the Incident Sheet requires a number of objective assessments to be made.

5th finally, information is INSCRIBED in a particular fashion and relating to particular criteria on the Observation Sheets and Incident Sheets carried by the CLOG team. This process provides for the systemic and objective observations made in the field to be collected, collated, and assessed in the office. This material will then be used to provide daily reports to all parties regarding the status of the policing of the event as well as providing the basis for the final report relating to the event which will be forwarded to all parties as well as the NSW Ombudsman (Police Department), & the NSW Council of Civil Liberties.

All CLOG members will receive full training the observations required, the assessments that must be made, and the details relating to filling in the various forms.”

Part 2. Participants & Preparations.


    Helping to sort stuff

    • CLOG Convener – James Moylan

    • Communications Coordinator – Nathan Apps

    • Legal Advice – Steve Bolt

    • Camp Coordinator – Chris O

    • Driver/First Aid – Frank M

    Frontline Recorders

    • Phil W – Phil Jnr – Ash D – Beth S – Mark P – Nat RG – Simon C – Steph P – Nakita

In preparation for the event the majority of the CLOG team had a single training session on the Saturday prior to the event.

In the week before the event the CLOG convener spent several days consolidating that physical resources required. These included:

  1. 1000 x double-sided A6 handout (105mm × 148mm) bearing ‘What is CLOG’ and ‘How does Prudential Observation Work?’ (see Appendix 1 for text).
  2. 700 x 10 page A6 booklet: The Civil Liberties Observer Group ☼2010. a GUIDE TO [not] GETTING BUSTED at MardiGrass ☺ (see Appendix 2 for index).
  3. 35 x 8 page A6 booklet: The Civil Liberties Observer Group ☼ 2010 RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. (see Appendix 3 for index).
  4. 14 CLOG shirts (white long sleeve shirts with a CLOG 2010 crest on the front and ‘SCU Civil Liberties Observer Group’ in large lettering – with the motto ‘all violence is counter-productive – informed observers make better coppers – better coppers make fewer arrests’ on the tail.
  5. 10 x large (poster size) copies of the handout (see above n1).
  6. sundry advertising sheets (for above n2).
  7. 40 x Observation sheets (with various sized tracking maps on back)
  8. 40 x Police watch sheets
  9. 100 x Incident sheets
  10. 4 x Clipboards

Facilities provided by the MardiGrass Organising committee included:

  • A full quarter of the interior of the Nimbin Town Hall with two desks and sleeping area.
  • Facilities and leads to plug in our computers.
  • Good food for all over the whole of the weekend (thank you all).
  • Nominated liaison officers in the Jungle patrol and Hemp Embassy.
  • Petrol & parking for the CLOG outside observation vehicle (supplied by Frank).

Total LEXUS expenditure (being mainly for the shirts): $182.60.

Total MardiGrass organising Committee expenditure (after offset by revenue from n2 above): $0.

Part 3. CLOG at MardiGrass.

Summary of Activities

Friday: 12 – 5pm.

A small group arrived on the Friday at midday and organised our base camp in the Town Hall for the weekend.

  • initial inspections
  • 3 hours of prudential observation
  • No incidents were reported.

    • Notes:

    1. Very heavy Police presence at the outset.
    2. Several groups of four or five police make multiple inspections in Mingle Park and the Museum. Rob (Museum) indicates that Policing is almost oppressive.
    3. Police visit the volunteer’s enclosure behind the Hemp Embassy on two occasions despite being told this is private property.
    4. Heavy and repeated patrolling of Peace Park.
    5. The Policing at the outside stations commences at Goolmangar and is visited by the CLOG vehicle. Police at the checkpoint are reported to be ‘intolerant but not hostile’.

Saturday: 8 – 5pm.

    • 9 hours of Prudential observation (sometimes multiple groups).
    • 9 incident reports.
    • 4 reports of substance (1 x police being heavy handed during arrest).
    • Several conversations with the Sergeant in Charge (hereafter Sergeant Peter).

    • Notes:

    1. Early consultation with Sergeant Peter (8:32 – 8:55am) indicates he is intent on ‘best-practice but sensible’ policing.
    2. Patrolling of private property ceases and is not recommenced.
    3. Size of patrols is trimmed and there are fewer of them.
    4. Several attendees and one of the organisers spontaneously comment (favourably) on the change in tenor of policing.
    5. Peace Park and Mingle Park are patrolled less visibly than the day before but still regularly. There is a heavy police presence in the street in front of the Museum and the Hemp Embassy but it is (in the main) quite unthreatening.
    6. Several instances of racial profiling are investigated.
    7. The CLOG vehicle visits all of the outside police check points. Goolmangar (Winebago and sniffer dogs), and the cemetery straight (Uki end – breath/saliva test) are visited twice. One report of an individual being told that the ‘event is called off’ at Uki.
    8. Quite a number of vehicles parked up at Goolmangar.
    9. Finished the day well pleased with few reports of arrest and few significant incidents reported.

Sunday: 8 – 3pm.

    • Early inspection of all camping grounds and Nimbin environs by car.
    • 6 hours of Prudential observation.
    • 8 incident reports (5 incidents).
    • 7 reports of substance.
    • Sergeant Peter advised me of need to abide by spirit of Summary Offences.

    • Notes:

    1. Morning commences with unfortunate news of a death at a private event (a DOOF).
    2. Reports of serious injury being sustained by an individual falling into the spoon drain by the side of the Bowling Club.
    3. Police behaviour regarding both overnight incidents was described as prompt and appropriate.
    4. Dr A arrested for Hindering and Resist Arrest. Following consideration of photo’s and observer reports this is deemed a valid arrest.
    5. Immediately upon release Dr A mounted stage in Peace Park and makes pointed and intemperate remarks directly to the five police officers in the Park.
    6. The tenor of the policing remains largely unchanged however a tug-of-war between the police and the organisers is cancelled.
    7. The CLOG vehicle visits all the checkpoints repeatedly during the day with the busiest being the Goolmangar site.
    8. Several more reports of inappropriate comments being made to motorists regarding the status of the event. These several reports were investigated further, resulting in at least two of these reports being deemed as credible and substantiate.

Part 4. Observations

The relationship between the Police and the CLOG observers was at all times cordial. One single problem was encountered with the observation protocols. Sergeant Peter requested (on Sunday) that the CLOG teams not intercept and stop persons who had been directed to ‘move on’ but to rather ‘move on’ with them whilst undertaking our interviews. This was agreed to with alacrity as the request was made civilly and the behaviour of the Police on the Saturday and Sunday was exemplary.

Several ‘Polite’ Squad (actors who dress as the police excepting for changing the name ‘police’ to ‘polite’ on their costumes) made a habit of following the police patrols closely during the course of the Saturday. When this practice became a process difficulty (due to their following too closely) they were warned off. When CLOG was advised of this in an “Incident Report’ the various persons who had been trailing the Police were interviewed and then warned to cease and desist from engaging in this practice.

Incidents (where there was a respondent with first hand information available) that were reported were investigated however no incident prompted a formal complaint to the police.

All reports (where there was only second hand or hearsay information reported to a CLOG team member) were investigated and substantiate the following notes:

  1. Credible reports indicate that at least one Police Officer was making inappropriate comments whilst manning the Goolmangar the Uki Checkpoints.
  2. In making an arrest for possession on the Friday night Police were heavy handed and bruised an individual being arrested.
  3. Police were observed searching unattended bags in Mingle Park, removing alcohol, and pouring it out, however the one identified potential respondent indicated that they did not wish to make a complaint beyond lodging an incident report with CLOG.

Part 5. Summary

Media reports indicate that the total number of arrests over the three days of MardiGrass 2010 numbered less than thirty. At last year’s event media reports indicate that there were well in excess of one hundred arrests. This represents a huge success for all involved.

CLOG observer groups did not report witnessing an incident of rude or inappropriate behaviour by a police officer during the event.

A number of reports of inappropriate or rude behaviour by police were investigated, including:

    • the opening of a private bag, removal of alcohol, and then pouring of this on the ground (usurping and squandering the common law property rights of an attendee)
    • the utilisation of intemperate language,
    • the utilisation of racially inflammatory terminology (‘black’, ‘abo’),
    • heavy handed conduct during arrest (one individual reported with apparent bruising).

None of these incidents were deemed as substantiating ‘serious (reportable) misconduct’.

One of these incidents was deemed to substantiate ‘(reportable) misconduct’ however the individual disaffected was reluctant to make an official statement.

Reports of inappropriate remarks being made to motorists at checkpoints distant from the event were investigated and substantiated. This matter is deemed to warrant further consultation.

At next year’s event dedicated CLOG teams will be tasked with monitoring all distant police checkpoints for the whole of the period of the event.

Police Behaviour

The policing at this years event was a marked departure to that employed last year. The various police officers on the street were (in the main) pleasant. Being neither overly punctilious nor easily aggravated. The tenor of (most of) the comments received by CLOG regarding the police effort this year has been positive (see Part 6).

CLOG suggests that the senior officers in charge of policing the 2010 MardiGrass should be publicly commended for the high level of professional competence that was displayed by the majority of the police during the course of the weekend.

What went right?

The Sergeant in charge entered into (formal and informal) liaison with elements of the organising committee and the observer group early in the event, and agreed on some ground rules. Then the Sergeant stuck to his word (eg, on the Sunday several groups of officers indicated a wish to enter and search on Hemp Embassy property but were turned away on citing the earlier agreement with the Sergeant.)

This honest and straightforward behaviour was interpreted by CLOG and the organising committee as bestowing mutually reciprocal obligations: if the Police were not going to create difficulties for us, then we were going to do our best to reduce the stress and hassle visited on the police; and so it turned out. This dynamic is to be encouraged at future events. The police were visited with far less aggravation and the event organisers felt empowered and respected.

Crowd Behaviour

As has been indicated by the organising committee, the crowd that attends the MardiGrass is largely well behaved.

All reports of violent behaviour at the event where the individuals involved were identified proved to involve locals.

Several incidents involving violence and alcohol relating to the Nimbin Hotel were reported and investigated on the Sunday morning.

Several incidents relating to adverse drug reactions were also reported.

None of these incidents (when investigated and assessed) reflected unfavourably on the police in any way.

An initial site inspection of Nimbin and environs undertaken on the Friday was repeated early on the Sunday. Illegal camping does seem to be an issue. Tents were observed pitched on verges and outside of designated areas.

The interrelationship of attendees and some of the residents living adjacent to the designated camping areas has been reported as problematic – either getting on too well (ie drunken behaviour) or otherwise feuding.

CLOG recommends that further attention needs to be paid to:

    a) the policing of alcohol use within the event environs and especially nearby the designated camping areas,

      • &,

    b) the provision of youth specific entertainment facilities in a safe and controlled manner on the Friday and Saturday nights.

Part 6. 2010. Event Assessments.

In the process of compiling this report extensive liaison and sampling of opinion has been undertaken. Some of the many comments provided are anonymously reprinted below.

  1. Agree with _____ (and pretty well everyone I’ve spoken too) on the outburst from Andrew…totally counterproductive and undid a lot of work. I think he should be approached, and asked if he could personally make a formal apology to the cops, and be made aware statements made on a public forum should reflect the topic being addressed and not become personal insults to a group he was ultimately stereotyping…exactly what we asked not to be done to us.

  1. I was not in Peace Park to hear his latest stupid act, but I was told by many people after woods and they were not impressed that he used the MardiGrass and the people of Nimbin for his own personal attacks on the Police and from what I understand he attacked the character not the uniform, I think this is unacceptable and is not the first time he has set the movement back because of his outright stupidity and uncaring nature and he should also apologize to everyone at the Embassy as well.

    We did tell him after woods that people were not impressed with his childish outburst.

  1. I hope Dr. Andrew Katelaris is invited to speak again in 2011. His long term association with the hemp plant, and his ethical stance on prohibition is communicated with passion and Andrew is a very intelligent person. I support what he said to the police and hope we can have more real people like himself attend our annual political protest rally.

  1. Hi, I too really appreciated the less forceful approach of the police this year. The lack of tension in the air made it a really enjoyable and positive mardigrass. We all agree, the law is the problem, but like others I don’t think abusing individuals will get anyone anywhere. A formal apology would be a good move.

    We’re on the edge of major change and it can only unfold if we’re seen to be rational people. All aspects of the hemp industry will remain regulated for quite some time to come, so we need to work with the regulators, including the cops. That’s only possible when you find some kind of common ground.

  1. High,

    I absolutely agree with all the comments re Andrew. Although understanding his complaints to the police (and secretly agreeing with most of it!) for the greater good we must respect
    them as peace officers. I really appreciated the less “force” they used this year ie no riot squads, sniffer dogs, horse, police vans etc. Let’s aim to keep them low key; abusing them publicly wont help our cause!

  1. My attitude to cops is well known but I honestly felt that they were much less hostile
    in their approach this year… until Andrew opened his trap, that is.

    Love, peace, all the good stuff,

  1. Hi All
    Many thanks to the Mardigrass Organizers for making it so easy to have ____ ____ Stall at Peace Park and for the Forum time at Town Hall over Mardigrass weekend. Special thanks to Gail and Cat for all the behind the scenes preparation and to Jamie for the good Hemp coverage in the program.
    As an Industrial Hemp farmer and member of the Northern Rivers Hemp Association, I have supported the view taken by ____ ____ in relation to Dr Andrew Katalaris. Perhaps the Hemp Embassy could take more care when inviting people to participate at that level.
    There appeared to be less police, minimal use of horses with a corresponding more chilled vibe.
    Thank you all

  1. Hi. I was little bit paranoid while I was there… keep searching police, watching every angle as possible.. well, I realized no much smoking at the little park front of pub.. less smoking on the street may be good thing… We enjoyed this year less police. Drug (Alchol) test on the road is quite big and serious…. This year I did not do anything, i was family spectators…but I really enjoyed. Watching parade was fun. Lots of effort and energy,

  1. First aid tent, to many people going to the hospital for bandaids, etc. poor use of hospital resources.
    NO DOGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    No free tickets to locals.
    What are water barriers and what are they for?
  2. More marching girls in the parade

    Could have some boys too i guess

  1. Our main feedback is about the buses from Byron.

    They were unable to access the School Bus Stop in the afternoon, because they were told it was only for the doof bus.

    Next year can we use the School as one of the Mardi Grass Bus Stops, as well as The Visitor Centre and the Showgrounds.

    Having these 3 drop off points allows easy access for visitors to all accommodation sites.

    Packaging the accommodation at the Showgrounds with a w/end MG Pass was very successful


James Moylan

[On behalf of the Civil Liberties Observer Group]


Michael Balderstone

[On behalf of the MardisGrass Organising Committee]


Appendix 1: A6 Handout.

How does Prudential Observation work?

Prudential observation assists police in maintaining high levels of integrity and professionalism: when the police brass can point to a credible observer group it often prompts better behavior.

Academic studies have demonstrated that when people are conscious of being observed they tend towards being ‘better’ behaviour.

    • When kids are supervised they are better behaved.
    • When prisoners think they are being observed (even without being able to confirm it as when peepholes, video cameras, one way glass etc are being employed) they are better behaved.
    • When Police believe they are being watched they are better behaved.

The motto of this year’s CLOG:

all violence is counter-productive

informed observers make better coppers

better coppers make fewer arrests

It really is as simple as that.

What is CLOG ☼ 2010?

The Nimbin MardiGrass 2010 Civil Liberties Observer Group (CLOG2010) is a Prudential Observation group being formed according to best practice criteria (consolidated in association with the NSW Council of Civil Liberties and the Sydney PoliceWatch Group).

Why an Observer Group?

During the course of last years MardiGrass there were several unfortunate incidents that involved the police. In response to these incidents the Nimbin Hemp Embassy, the LEXUS Union of Students of Southern Cross University, the Nimbin Justice Action Group and the MardiGrass Organising Committee have joined together to organise a Civil Liberties Observer Group (CLOG).

Prudential Observation means:

    • 1. an impartial and informed group,

    • 2. in liaison with all interested parties,

    • 3. observing and documenting police activity,

    • 4. in a rigorous and systematic manner.

Prudential observation assists police in maintaining high levels of integrity and professionalism.

    Three Basic Principles of prudential observation:

      • 1. all violence is counter-productive,

      • 2. informed observers make better police,

      • 3. better police make fewer arrests.

    Three Basic Practices of prudential observation:

      • 1. Liaise: with all interested parties.

      • 2. Observe: impartially.

      • 3. Document: competently and comprehensively.

CLOG 2010 will be observing and documenting police conduct during course of the event.


Appendix 2:

A6 Booklet – Index of The Civil Liberties Observer Group ☼2010. a GUIDE TO [not] GETTING BUSTED at MardiGrass ☺


    Do I have to give police my name and address? 1

    When can police tell me to stop doing something or ‘move on’? 1

    What if a direction is unfair or unreasonable? 2

    What if you are not in a ‘public place’? 2

    You are not obliged to say anything: so don’t! 3

    Can I have someone with me when questioned by police on the street? 3

    Do I have to go with police if I haven’t been arrested? 3

    Can I be arrested for questioning if I’m not a suspect? 3



    Where a warrant has not been issued 5

    Do I have to participate in a police ‘line-up’? 6

    When can police search my body, car or bag? 6


    ARREST 8



    What is an ‘ERISP’? 8

    Do I have to let police take my photo, fingerprints or DNA after arrest? 9

    Police must obtain a Court order to take your DNA. 9

Appendix 2: A6 Booklet: Index of The Civil Liberties Observer Group ☼ 2010 RULES OF ENGAGEMENT.


    Why? 1

    What does Prudential Observation mean (in simplistic terms)? 2

    How does Prudential Observation work? 3


    Prudential Observation is undertaken by: 4

    When confronted by an attendee or a policeman remember your five ‘D’s’ 6

    On the Street CLOG Operatives: 7

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