NSW Police have apologised for ejecting a 78er from the Mardi Gras Parade earlier this month in an incident organisers slammed as an “appalling” breach of protocol.
Barbara Karpinski (pictured inset) was seated in the stands at the SCG as a spectator on the night (March 5).
Karpinski was one of the original Mardi Gras protesters in 1978, the group now known as 78ers.
During the event, she held up a handmade poster she had made in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. The poster featured peace signs with a pro-Ukraine message in Russian.
However, during the event Karpinski was approached in the stands by a police officer who confiscated her poster.
Karpinski said police later returned and escorted her out of the SCG and banned her from re-entering.
A spokesperson for NSW Police has said the force is investigating the incident.
“The NSW Police Force is taking this matter very seriously,” the spokesperson said.
“[The force] is conducting inquiries to determine why and how this incident occurred and ensure it is not repeated.
“We apologise sincerely to the 78er who was asked to leave and to all 78ers and the LGBTIQA+ communities broadly.
“Our dialogue and communication with the LGBTIQA+ communities will continue to build on the solid relationship we have established together.”
Mardi Gras CEO ‘appalled and angry’ by officer’s ‘breach of protocol’
Previously, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger said they were “appalled and angry” about the incident, which “goes against everything Mardi Gras stands for”.
“The police officer involved did not follow protocol and had no right to act in this way,” he said.
“We share in the upset that our 78er felt at having been unjustly ejected by Police.
“We also share the community’s anger that something like this could happen in a place where our community should feel safe to express their views.”
Kruger said Mardi Gras takes pride in being “a safe space for our community to share messages of love and protest”.
“The actions of this officer have not only violated the sacred space we create for self-expression, but it has also unravelled a lot of work that has gone into building a better relationship between the LGBTQIA+ community and NSW Police.
“We’d like to express our deepest apologies to the 78er involved and extend that to all 78ers and the wider LGBTQIA+ community.”
Kruger said Mardi Gras would work with police on “more stringent protocols and operational systems” to stop it happening again.
On Parade night, NSW Police also arrested four people for entering the pitch during the Parade at the SCG.
The arrests included at least three protesters who opposed the police’s participation in the march.
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