Sydney resident Mark Spiro has lambasted the actions of the police after he was arrested at a rally in the city’s CBD.
Spiro, a Jewish father-of-two, was taken into custody for carrying an Israeli flag at the event where supporters of Hamas' later loudly chanted 'gas the jews' on the steps of Sydney's famous Opera House.
He expressed his shock and dismay, stating, “The police should feel ashamed of themselves.” Spiro recounted the incident to Sky News Australia, explaining that he was at the rally for only a few seconds before being seized by three police officers.
“I walked from Town Hall Station across the road with a rolled-up flag. I was literally at the protest for three seconds,” Spiro said, visibly frustrated.
“The next thing I know, I’ve got multiple police officers trying to grab the flag off of me, then carry me away from the scene, telling me I’m arrested for breach of the peace.”
Spiro claimed the police's response was excessive, considering he was merely expressing solidarity with Israel amid the pro-Palestinian demonstration, which included disturbing calls for the destruction of Israel and anti-Semitic chants.
“It was shocking and confronting,” he said, describing how he felt like a "ragdoll" as he was dragged away.
“The police, they should feel ashamed of themselves quite frankly. I was an innocent bystander with a rolled-up Israeli flag,” Spiro emphasized, criticizing the police's handling of the situation.
A New South Wales Police spokesperson defended the arrest, stating it was to prevent a breach of the peace, but confirmed that no further action would be taken against Spiro.
The incident has sparked widespread outrage among Australians, with a video of Spiro being dragged away from the protest by three police officers circulating online.
In the video, Spiro can be heard questioning the reasons for his arrest, saying, “Arrested? For doing what? I’m holding a flag.”
The incident has reignited debates about freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest in Australia, with many calling for a review of police actions at public events to ensure the protection of rights.