Victoria Police apologise for Tasty Raid
Acting Chief Commissioner, Lucinda Nolan, has apologised on behalf of the Victoria Police for the events that happened during the 'Tasty Raid' in 1994.
The apology has been welcomed by leaders of the LGBTI communities, and was made during an intimate address in the Victoria Police Museum, and coincides with the 20th Anniversary of the incident.
"The events that took place that night caused distress to people who were in attendance and had a significant impact on the relationship between Victoria Police and the wider LGBTI community," said the acting Commissioner.
"It is therefore appropriate, as we near the 20th anniversary of this incident, that Victoria Police extends a sincere apology to the community members who were affected by events on that night.
"We also extend a general apology to the broader LGBTI community for the impact this event has had on our relationship over the past two decades."
Acting Commissioner Nolan told MCV it was through the creation of the new LGBTI Community Reference Group that the importance of an apology became very apparent.
"If we want to build a strong and sustainable relationship for the future, then we need to accept the things we've done wrong in the past, and tonight is the start of that," Acting Commissioner Nolan told MCV.
Although many members of the police involved in the 'Tasty Raid' are still acting in the force today, Acting Commissioner Nolan said it is through community engagement that steps are in place to ensure incidents like the Tasty Raid never happen again.
"We've got a very strong training and awareness program that goes across all levels of police.
"All the members [involved in the Tasty Raid] have been spoken to about the apology and are all highly supportive of Victoria Police making a genuine, public apology to the GLBTI community," she told MCV.
Shaun Miller was there in early hours of the 7th of August in 1994, when dozens of police officers entered the Tasty Nightclub in Flinders Lane, strip-searched and detained 463 patrons over a seven hour period.
"Even though it was 20 years ago, I still remember the lights going on," he told MCV.
"I remember what the police said, I remember being strip-searched – the whole thing.
Although Miller accepts he cannot speak on behalf of everyone who was at the raid that night, he accepts the apology from Victoria Police.
"In my view, the police apology is genuine and sincere and a wonderful milestone in the road to improving the relationship between the GLBTI community and the Victoria police.
Gary Singer, one of the lawyers who lead the case against Victoria Police in which victims were awarded up to $10 million in compensation, said the apology was a big step forward.
"It's wonderful to see the Police Commissioner apologise for an atrocious event that happened 20 years ago.
"We've come a long way. [Victoria Police] isn't just standing there blindly behind the police that were involved in that event," he told MCV.
Singer didn't agree that the apology was long overdue, telling MCV, "Apologies take a long time when you're dealing with Government bureaucracy.
"At least there's an apology and we're moving forward with it. Look at how long the indigenous communities had been waiting for an apology; there are a lot of people waiting for an apology for WWII.
"It's an indication [Victoria Police] are prepared to change, they're thinking about change, and they admit that their culture wasn't right. That's fantastic and it's a great step forward.
Jamie Gardiner, who helped set up the first Gay and Lesbian Liaison Committee in 1986, said that he felt they have finally achieved what they set out to do.
"The 'Tasty Raid' is an important event in a long history of issues between the police and LGBTI community, but this apology is quite ground breaking."
Gardiner told MCV that an apology enables those involved to move forward on a different level.
"The Priority Communities Division is a very significant ramp up from the previous levels of engagement with Victoria Police with all their priority communities, and goes to show that a long work on difficult stuff does produce results after a period of time.
"Now we're working together rather than fighting," he said.
Anna Brown from the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby said the raid should never have happened.
"The raid became an unfortunate stain on Victoria Police's reputation.
"We thank the Chief Commissioner for the apology, which demonstrates Victoria Police's organisational maturity and builds a strong platform for partnership into the future," said Ms Brown.
The apology is also somewhat unprecedented for the GLBTI community worldwide, with Sally Goldner from Transgender Victoria, mentioning the Stonewall incident in New York City has not seen a formal apology from the NYPD.
"This is not just great for GLBTI communities in Victoria," she said.
"This is great for the other states and territories where police may not be at the same level as this, but I'm also thinking internationally.
"This could make a difference to a GLBTI person's life anywhere, and it's a really historic moment."