It's time to spare a thought for the hundreds of ACT Policing and Australian Federal Police officers who have repeatedly put their own safety on the line to maintain law and order in Canberra in the face of significant protest activity since late last December.
While the patience of many locals has been pushed to the limit by the arson attack on Old Parliament House on December 30, the "sovereign citizen" campsite adjacent to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and the disruptions to movement, businesses and major events from the "Convoy to Canberra" over the past fortnight, this situation could have been much, much worse.
That it wasn't is, in large part, due to the professionalism, restraint and common sense of police men and women who, while doing everything they could to contain the protests and to protect people and property, were also mindful of the need to avoid provoking unnecessary confrontation.
While it is a given law enforcement would have had many more resources up its sleeve than were actually deployed, the absence of footage of black-clad riot squads with helmets, face masks, shields and batons charging crowds was a change to the images out of Melbourne last September.
Instead, vision and eyewitness reports from the protests reflected a non-confrontational posture by law enforcement. Even when they were required to evict campers from the lawns by the National Library and eventually from Exhibition Park, the tactics seemed to avoid getting the bulk of the demonstrators - most of whom were actually well-behaved - offside, and turning a band of protesters into an angry mob.
It is important to remember that many of the organisations that inflamed the Melbourne riots have been represented in Canberra for the past two and a half months. In addition to trying to recruit new members from the disaffected, misled and confused, some have also been actively trying to escalate the situation into outright violence.
The restraint shown by the police tasked with protecting Government House against hundreds of protesters who seized the flagpole and raised the Eureka flag early last week was particularly impressive.
When it became obvious that the only way to move the crowd on would have been to invoke physical force, officers wisely chose to regroup and to let the heightened emotions dissipate. By early afternoon the demonstrators had departed, nobody had been hurt and no significant damage had been done.
Footage livestreamed by the protesters themselves showed people calling on others in the crowd to stop abusing the officers - who, as they pointed out, were "doing their job".
Ever since the demonstrators began to arrive, ACT Policing's consistent message has been that while it respects the rights of people to peacefully protest - as do most Canberrans - it won't tolerate illegal behaviour.
Nobody was moved on from either near Old Parliament House on January 14 or from EPIC and Cotter on Monday because they were a demonstrator. The evictions were carried out because the campers did not have the right to be there, or, in the case of Cotter, were in breach of occupancy limits.
Those protesters who have not left the capital are free to remain, just so long as they abide by the law and don't harass or inconvenience ordinary citizens.
That said, given large numbers of protesters are expected to return in time for the budget on March 29, one would assume both ACT Policing and the AFP are reviewing the events of recent weeks in order to see what lessons can be learnt.
With Australia now going down the American path, Canberra is likely to see increased protest activity in the future. The city needs to be prepared.
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