Rainbow Dreaming  


'The Passion of Rusty Harris’, Easter Friday, Byron Bay, 2001
Image: © Jeff Dawson/Byron Echo

Be There. Be Free!

Sniffer dog resistance hero Rusty Harris will make his 13th appearance before Byron Bay Local Court next Thursday, 23rd October. An all-day Free Hemp Awareness Festival will be held in Railway Park to coincide with the court appearance.

Mr. Harris has been in court 12 times over the past two-and-a-half years, defending himself against three charges relating to a police sniffer dog search and his arrest on 9th March, 2001, outside the former Fast Eddies café in Johnston St, Byron Bay.

Since Mr. Harris’ last court appearance in Byron on 10th July, police have dropped two of the charges: of having a knife, which was 3cm long and on a key ring, and being in possession of money alleged to be stolen. Rusty was about to use the money to buy a water alkaline and ionizing machine for healing purposes.

At next week’s appearance, Mr. Harris, represented by solicitor Ralph James, will continue to challenge the legality and manner of the sniffer dog search and the evidence of snigger dog handler, Snr. Constable Colleen Bolton. Mr. Harris says police did not identify themselves before the sniffer dog search, and will argue the dog lifting his testicles was a ‘trespass on his person’.

“Under the NSW Labor Government we have seen the overriding of a court finding in Sydney that the use of sniffer dogs constituted an illegal search,” said Mr. Harris, a primary producer from Barkers Vale.

He and his supporters will be protesting against sniffer dog searches, which they say are a violation of basic civil liberties and human rights. There have been no sniffer dog searches by police in the Byron Bay area since Mr. Harris began contesting the legality of the searches.

“The police claim they are only doing their job, but our experience is that these operations create more harm than they reduce, and that the police have other motives and are selective in who they search,” Mr. Harris said. “We say that the real intention is to intimidate and criminalise people and to create fodder for their Drug War jails. We say the sniffer dog searches select the ‘soft’ targets of the poor and the marginalised.”

At every court appearance to date a rally has been held in support of Rusty Harris, to protest against the use of sniffer dogs and support the re-legalisation of hemp. Past rallies have been well-attended, colourful and peaceful protests with music, dancing, and a feeling of solidarity.

The Free Hemp Awareness Festival to coincide with Rusty’s 13th court appearance will be held in Railway Park Byron Bay from 9.30am till sunset.

Be There. Be Free.

HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) press release, October 2003

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