Is peace political?

Jun 25, 2024
Peace Now Banner being removed by Kings Cross Police-c Image Andrew Quilty/ supplied with permission

Since when did PEACE become a political statement??

On Easter Friday, 28th March 2024 at 5.30 am, Sydney artists Justine Muller (me) and Raymond Lalotoa hung a 5-metre hand-painted banner with the words PEACE NOW and a white dove off the Kings Cross walkway, facing oncoming traffic from the Eastern Suburbs towards the CBD. (documented by photojournalist Andrew Quilty).

However, within 15 minutes, it was reported to the police who arrived, cut it down, and confiscated the banner.

After correspondence via email with Kings Cross Police, they agreed to return the banner with the understanding that we must first get permission from the City of Sydney to have it rehung.
We started a petition to have the banner rehung and collected 600-plus signatures from our local area.
We quickly garnered support from our local MP Alex Greenwich.The petition was also signed by the Jewish Council of Australia and an Israeli PEACE activist Moaz Inon, whose parents were murdered in the Oct 7th attack.

After months of correspondence back and forth between City of Sydney and Traffic NSW each telling me that the responsibility lies with the other.

Finally the City of Sydney gave support (not in writing)  but they told me I also needed permission from Traffic NSW.

Traffic NSW then directed me to a portal of regulations for hanging a banner off bridges – I complied with all the regulations, including acquiring public liability insurance.

I thought I was ready to get the approval to hang the PEACE banner when I received an aggressive and threatening phone call from a staff member at traffic NSW. She said she now had my address and phone number and if I rehung the banner the police will be knocking at my door.

I complained to Traffic NSW and a week later received a phone call again from the said staff member, this time (wrongfully) accusing me of calling her anti-Jew and saying she needed counselling because of our discussion had traumatised her.

She said the rules of traffic NSW do not accept banners that are political.

Since when did PEACE become a political statement??

Despite blocking me having the banner hung, she also said that it was not up to Traffic NSW but up to the City of Sydney.

I reported her again to Traffic NSW and have not heard back.

I also tried to contact the City of Sydney who still can’t give me a straight answer.

I can’t believe that even PEACE is being censored in this country.

 

About the artists:

Justine Muller is a multi-disciplined artist with a BFA from the National Art School. Her late godfather, the late Jack Mundey (subject for her portrait and finalist for the Archibald Prize 2020) instilled in her a strong sense of justice. See Justine’s bio below.

Raymond Tuifao Lalotoa (last name translates to peaceful warrior) is a proud Samoan Artist and musician based in Sydney. Ray’s art frames his Pacific Island perspective of the world crossed with his passion for human rights, music, film and poetry. Ray is also the founding member of Sydney soul punk band FAIT ACCOMPLI.

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