The perils of peaceful protest
But this blog post will be more about why I choose to remain a non-aligned protester rather than become a member of any of the participating groups. The following account of an incident will explain why I feel this way:
Naturally, the police were there in force, outnumbering the small gathering. We were on the lawn near Parliament House. There were banners. One of the event organisers had made some impressive banners which were held aloft on tallish bamboo poles which, due to the wind, were a bit of a handful to keep upright.
This organiser (let's call him Grant) brought up six 2-metre long steel star pickets which were driven into the ground to hold up the banners.
The police (quite reasonably, I thought) asked for them to be removed, quoting all sorts of reasons (but I suspect the real one was that these star pickets would make awsome weapons if the protest went ugly.) I have to say that if I had been the police commander I would have banned their presence as well.
But Grant was having none of it, and ignored the police request for their removal. I felt he was baiting them to escalate things into a physical confrontation which could then have been spun to look like police heavy-handedness.
A lawyer at the rally suggested to me that we go along with the (reasonable) request to remove the star pickets. I agreed, and so we did. Grant was not impressed.
Based on this and other things I know about Grant, I no longer trust that he has a genuine commitment to keeping protests peaceful and absolutely non-violent. I suspect he doesn't mind a bit of violence as long as the police can be blamed for it, believing it to be good publicity and sympathy value.
My idea of non-violent protest precludes the presence of star pickets, because if things get out of hand you can bet London to a brick that they will be used by undisciplined, angry protesters and that would quickly escalate things into an out-of-control melee.
As for most of the groups there, I am not convinced that their commitment to non-violence is rock-solid or well-grounded. I suspect that if the police acted in a heavy-handed way, some of these groups' members would feel justified in meeting violence with violence. With no visible mechanism in place to deal with any protester violence, I cannot trust these groups' ability to ensure the protests remain non-violent.
So I shall continue to remain a non-aligned anti-war protester.
 My apologies to Andrew and Sue for not offering to meet either (or both) of you in Kambra. I wanted get back home same day, so with the 8 hour round trip, it was a bit much to also try to fit in any social activities. Sorry. :-(