Freedom Ride

After travelling through a dozen jail towns to protest the drug war, Australia’s Freedom Ride arrived in Sydney to participate in the Hemp Olympics.
The Freedom Ride is a convoy of colourfully painted buses, vans and vehicles led by “Peacebus.com,” a bus with rainbow flags, political banners, two big speaker horns, and a massive doobie known as “The Big Joint.” Graeme Dunstan explains how “the Big Joint hails from Nimbin in northern NSW where it is the central icon of the village’s annual hemp harvest festival, the Nimbin Mardi Grass. It is 14 meters long (42 feet) and it needs about 12 people to carry it. Held aloft its momentum gives it a battering ram quality.”

Their activities on the prison tour included publicly burning cardboard replicas of various prisons, confronting wardens and guards about drug-war prisoners, and drawing media attention to the fact that “the New South Wales government is building prisons at a faster rate than it is building universities or hospitals.”

The tour also visited the US Embassy, where another cardboard jail replica was burned, and Dunstan proclaimed “We want to let the new US Ambassador to Australia know that the Australian people want no more of the US drug prohibition madness.”

On September 9, The Big Joint arrived in Sydney, where they marched under police escort to the city centre, and enjoyed music, dancing, fire sticks, and public protest.

Australian activist Lucy Charlesworth of Jackal Media was in attendance, and she described the scene: “It was an amazing day. The South Sydney local government council let us hold the Hemp Olympix in Victoria Park, then the Reclaim the Streets mob turned up and the Police Commander Dave Darcy organized for us all to take the Big Joint up into Sydney, to march up to Town Hall with a police escort, blocking off the roads, and have a street party. This was without prior arrangement of permits to do this. The Commander and his negotiators were very tolerant.”

? Freedom Ride: Box 37, Nimbin, NSW 2480; tel (61) 02-66-890-413; web www.peacebus.com; email [email protected]

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