“Absolutely disgusted”. That’s how one Bellingen local described the behavior of protesters over the weekend in Bellingen.
The mother stopped by for a coffee on Saturday morning with her young child and 3 other young teenagers when they were confronted by the group protesting the removal of trees in the town’s CBD.
“As we were leaving a small group of men aggressively arrived with a chainsaw and walked towards the Mayor and another person, threatening and yelling”, the lady said.
This was not the end of the protesting, with a number of people turning out on Sunday morning in what was far from a peaceful protest in the streets of the small town.
Police were forced to stand guard as workers attempted to move heavy equipment into the work site.
One protester was restrained by Police, then let go once he had calmed down, only to discover that his young son, who looked visibly shaken by the commotion had also been brought to the protest.
A short time later, the same man was seen running around the temporary fencing before he and others attempted the push down the fencing against police officers.
The behavior of the protesters, many who do not even reside in the town of Bellingen, appears to have left a bad taste in the mouths of many locals.
“I have always been proud to call Bellingen home as an embracing and inclusive community, but after seeing today's vile behaviour and the escalating hate and aggression, I can say this no more” said one local.
The removal of the trees is something that seems to have divided the town.
Camphor Laurel trees are a known pest, the class 4 noxious weed can become a pest when seeds from the tree are spread by birds and fauna.
Work continued all day on Sunday to remove the trees from the CBD, while police remained at the scene to monitor the area.
The work to remove the Camphor Laurel trees is part of Council’s Master Plan for the main street to improve drainage and accessibility for the disabled.
Check out the vision from the protesters on Sunday morning in Belligen: