Angry local residents and supporters marched from Redfern to Leamington Avenue, which was decked out in red balloons and reverberated with the sound of the MC Hammer song “Can’t Touch This”.
RailCorp is currently considering a proposal to compulsorily resume and demolish all the houses on Leamington Avenue, and more on Holdsworth and Pine Streets, as part of a plan to build a railway tunnel to relieve extra traffic expected on the western rail line.
As well as destroying heritage homes built in 1887, the plan would see the destruction of the iconic "Three Proud People" mural depicting the “black power salute” at the Mexico 1968 Olympics, painted on the side of 39 Pine Street.
Marrickville Deputy Mayor and Greens candidate for the seat of Marrickville in next year’s State election, Fiona Byrne addressed the crowd, saying the planned changes were unnecessary, and wouldn’t work anyway. Instead she argued that trains speeds and timetables should be improved.
Trains are currently slower than they were in the 1940s, she added.
Local state MP, Carmel Tebbutt, also addressed the crowd, but was heckled when she refused to rule out the planned demolitions, as was Gladys Bereklijan, NSW Opposition transport spokesperson, who refused to promise that a Coalition State government would not carry out a similar development.
Jack Mundey, historic leader of the “Greens Bans” in the 60s and 70s that saved countless heritage buildings and areas, called for “peoples’ extra-parliamentary action” to save the houses, and called on the CFMEU to put a new Green Ban on the area.
The artist responsible for painting the iconic mural addressed the crowd, as did Matt Norman, nephew of the Australian athlete Peter Norman, who took part in the symbolic protest against racism in 1968.
Norman – who travelled up from Melbourne for the rally – read out a letter from Tommy Smith, the gold medallist on that podium, calling for people to defend the mural as a symbol of peace and equality.
For more information about the campaign to save the mural, and the houses, visit: http://saveleamingtonavenue.org/