Home > Corruption, Papua New Guinea > G4S boss Kerry McNamara was responsible for the infamous Tasty nightclub raid

G4S boss Kerry McNamara was responsible for the infamous Tasty nightclub raid

November 15, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments


The Tasty nightclub raid refers to an incident on 7 August 1994 during which 463 patrons of the Tasty nightclub event in Melbourne, Australia were detained for seven hours, strip searched and cavity searched, and in some cases brutalised, by armed members of Victoria Police.

The Tasty nightclub, not widely known to the general public prior to media reports of the raid, was a popular alternative venue frequented by a large number of gay and transgender patrons, and well-known local identities. Though not endorsed by the organisers drug taking was common amongst its patrons. The Tasty events were in some ways a precursor to the later underground rave parties.

The raid
The incident occurred at the Commerce Club, Flinders Street, Melbourne at which the Tasty event was regularly held (patrons typically entered and left via a rear entrance in the more secluded Flinders Lane for their own security).

During the raid, which began in the early hours, no patrons were permitted to enter or leave the venue for approximately seven hours. Full nudity was enforced and the searches were performed in full view of other patrons. The strip search, whilst distressing for all attendees, was particularly humiliating for the transgender patrons.

The exact police motivation for the raid is unclear. The predominant sexuality of the events’ clientele was well known to police, leading to intense speculation that the club was specifically targeted for reasons grounded in homophobia.

The raid resulted in two drug-related arrests, but all charges were later dropped.

Media attention and public backlash
A photograph of the incident taken by a patron holding a camera which, in the darkness, had not been seen by police appeared on the front page of Melbourne’s Age newspaper under the headline “Hands Against The Wall”. The resulting media attention created a great deal of political controversy, as well as embarrassment to the police force and the Kennett government of the day. The situation brought attention to a police force that had been noted as the most violent in Australia, dating back to 1984.

Legal action
The incident led to successful legal action against Victoria Police with damages of well over A$10,000,000 awarded to patrons. This sum would have been considerably higher had all affected parties come forward – a large number of patrons, fearful of the repercussions of “outing” themselves in a public forum or reluctant to relive the traumatic experience of the raid, did not participate.

The class action was run by Gary Singer, later Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne.

Although very different in their particular manifestations of activism, the Tasty incident has been described by some as Melbourne’s Stonewall, comparable to the latter through its effect on community views and awareness, and resultant reviews of inappropriate police activity.

A 52-minute documentary about the incident was made in 2003 to mark its 10th anniversary. The Tasty Bust Reunion was produced by Esben Storm and directed by Stephen Maclean, and includes extensive interviews and insights with patrons, club owners and employees. The documentary was screened on SBS television Australia and released on DVD.


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