of Rusty Harris’, Easter Friday, Byron Bay, 2001
Image: © Jeff Dawson/Byron Echo
Be There. Be Free!
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
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
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
Be There. Be Free.
(Help End Marijuana Prohibition) press release, October 2003