NSW Police Assault Well-Known Protester: Officers Slam Danny Lim’s Face into Ground

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Danny Lim

Two police officers approach a well-known Sydney figure wearing a sandwich board with colourful and somewhat “cheeky” messaging on it in the Queen Victoria Building on Tuesday, and within minutes slam him face first into the tiled floor of the CBD shopping mall.

It’s safe to say that Danny Lim is known by most Sydneysiders. If they’re not aware of his name, they are at least familiar with the site of the iconic protester, who’s always happy to pause and let strangers take a photo of him, as he spreads positive messages that speak truth to power.

And whilst Danny casts a gigantic presence over events across Sydney, the 78-year-old human rights agitator is not huge in stature, which begs the question as to why two NSW police officers found it necessary to brutally assault him to the point, as he has said himself, that he could have been killed.

Indeed, so bad was the roughing up that the two cops gave the elderly man for standing in a shopping mall, not making a sound or causing any commotion, that the arrest was aborted, and Danny had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

Maximum harm

Sydney lawyer Chris Murphy, who has represented Lim in the past, tweeted the footage of the assault that took place on 22 November. It commences with the much taller cops looming over Danny, holding him by the wrists and beginning to wrestle with him, as Lim calls out for help.

The officers then pull the elderly man forward with them, lift him slightly into the air, as the larger officer kicks his legs out from under him, and they slam his face directly into the floor.

Danny goes limp as the officers then pull his wrists, this way and that, attempting to apply handcuffs.

With cuffs applied, the officers roll Lim back over. “Do you want to sit up,” one officer asks his twice, as Danny appears too shellshocked to understand or answer. The person filming then gasps at his condition and zooms in on a blood stain on the floor of the popular shopping centre.

Balletlike in its precision, these officers performed the manoeuvre without thinking. This was clearly standard operating procedure: see elderly man in mall, slam him face first into the ground, causing maximum harm, and whatever you do, don’t consider other options of your own accord.

Police have no discretion

Yesterday’s incident was not the first-time officers have brutally arrested Danny. In January 2019, two police officers forcibly took him into custody at Sydney eyesore Barangaroo as he was wearing the same sign that he had on on Tuesday, which reads “SMILE CVN’T! WHY CVN’T?”

But the officers in 2019 didn’t do the job on Lim that the officers did on Tuesday. Evidently, the incident this week was in response to a phone complaint about Danny being in the premises wearing the sign.

In deliberating upon the incident four years ago, NSW Magistrate Jacqueline Milledge ruled in August that year that while Lim’s message board might have been “cheeky”, it was not criminally offensive. And she was also critical about the force responding officers had used during the incident.

People across NSW and nationwide are disgusted about the way NSW police beat on Lim this week. The incident not only raises questions about the officers directly involved, but also about how NSW police is operating in general, with officers unable to think beyond the use of force.

Murphy further posted a photo of Lim in hospital on Tuesday afternoon with a bloody wound on his right upper cheek and wearing a neck brace, with the caption, “Condition serious. Danny Lim after police violence today. Staff in tears”.

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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