Three blockade arrests
DOUBTFUL Creek became the latest flashpoint in the fight over coal seam gas on the Northern Rivers yesterday with three arrests in the first day of a blockade of Metgasco's new drilling site.
Around 6.30am more than 30 police from across the Northern Rivers converged on the camp just outside Eden Creek State Forest in Doubtful Creek, north of Casino.
Featured in the police operation were three overall-clad Operations Support Group squads - the rural equivalent of the Riot Squad - from Richmond, Coffs-Clarence and Tweed-Byron commands.
Police immediately moved to secure the site entrance.
The first arrest occurred when Githabul man Kamallie Monsell, who according to witnesses was preparing to apply ochre to his face for a traditional ceremony, was arrested.
Two hours later another Githabul elder, Kevin Boota, was arrested during a verbal confrontation with police about land rights.
Both have been released.
The remainder of the day saw several tense moments as Metgasco trucks moved at a crawling pace in and out of the site, escorted by OSG officers, while protesters - whose numbers had swelled to more than 120 by the middle of the day - chanted "leave this place".
Brisbane social worker, Culley Palmer, 25, was arrested shortly after 1pm when he sat in front of a moving truck.
While the majority of the protest action was restrained, some individuals hurled abuse at police, and some police responded with physical force when protesters stood in their vicinity.
Richmond Local Area Command crime manager Detective Inspector Greg Moore said police were very keen to maintain a good rapport with protesters.
"We commend the majority of the protesters for their continuing good behaviour," Det Insp Moore said.
"It's disappointing that there was some personal abuse directed at police but we don't feel that type of conduct represents the majority."
Yesterday's arrests are the first at Doubtful Creek, most activists await the arrival of Metgasco's drill rig to begin concerted direct action.
The drill has become a symbolic target for protesters and it is believed to be about to head north.