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Strong support for graffiti activist

Standing in a long Australian tradition of people utilising billboards as a canvas to express political concerns, Stephen Langford faced court on Friday May 31 charged with graffiti offences for painting “close the camps” across private advertising.

Sister Susan Connelly speaks up for refugee rights. Photo:Lyn Turnbull

Prior to entering the Downing Centre court, members of the Refugee Action Coalition, Solidarity Choir and fellow members of Pitt Street Uniting Church rallied in support of Mr Langford.

A number of speakers, including Greens NSW Upper House member David Shoebridge, called for all camps to be closed, and Sister Susan Connelly said that the real crime is not graffiti on a billboard, but the government turning a blind eye to the detention of verified refugees.

A message of support from Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) Melbourne was read. “I am writing this statement of solidarity for your appearance in court on Friday as I watch the news coming in that now 20 men on Manus have attempted suicide or self-harm since the re-election of the Coalition government.

“[A]cross the country [people] are feeling distressed at this news and furious at the bipartisan cruelty by our politicians. But now is not the time for us to throw our hands in the air in despair. Now is the time for us to work even harder to close down these death camps.

“As you walk into court on Friday please know that many members of WACA in Melbourne will also be walking into court with you. Down here in Melbourne we are facing three court cases on the same day, as the Victorian police and Border Force attempt to intimidate and scare us with excessive and vexatious charges.”

Mr Langford read the names of all who have died in the Manus and Nauru camps before he walked into the court with many supporters.

He was issued a fine for $1,000. If damages to the “skin” of the billboard also amount to $1,000, Mr Langford intends to crowdfund the $2,000 total cost. “And I may well donate something close to that for WACA’s Sail 4 Justice campaign,” Mr Langford said.

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