Australia

Activist Danny Lim fights fine over 'offensive' placard

Danny Lim. Source: AAP

Body cam footage of the arrest of Sydney sandwich board activist Danny Lim has shown him crying out for help as police put him in handcuffs.

Police repeatedly swore as they arrested popular Sydney sandwich board activist Danny Lim over his allegedly offensive sign, body camera footage shows.

The footage was played on Wednesday in Downing Centre Local Court, where Mr Lim is challenging a $500 fine for offensive behaviour.

In it, police officers can be heard saying "that's f***ing pathetic", "bulls***" and "I don't give a s***".

Sydney activist Danny Lim with supporters earlier this year.
Sydney activist Danny Lim with supporters earlier this year.
AAP

The sign that sparked the 75-year-old's arrest read: "SMILE CVN'T! WHY CVN'T?"

Mr Lim was captured on video crying out for help after three officers took his sign, restraining him with handcuffs that left his wrists bruised and bleeding when he attempted to take it back.

He was charged and handed a $500 fine.

In court on Wednesday, Mr Lim's lawyer Bryan Wrench challenged the three officers present at the incident in Barangaroo on 11 January over their own language while arresting his client and whether the sign was in fact offensive.

Only one person, a woman who worked in the area, called the police to say she was offended by the sign, the court heard.

Senior Constable Tufan Salman said he thought the sign contained the "c" word and believed it to be offensive.

"I can't even say it," he told the court, but agreed it was a "play on words".

Mr Lim's lawyer Bryan Wrench pointed to a photo of popular fashion label FCUK.

Video of the arrest showed Constable Ashleigh Hodge telling Mr Lim that while she "didn't give a s***" about the sign he still needed to take it off. In court, she said she did find the sign "offensive".

The protesters outside Sydney City Police Area Command.
The protesters outside Sydney City Police Area Command.
AAP

Senior Constable Ashley Hans was also sure the sign was offensive and could be heard on the footage telling his coworkers that bystanders who had tried to speak with police were "f***ing pathetic ... social justice warriors".

He can also be heard telling Mr Lim, who "yelped" in pain as he was lifted off the ground in handcuffs, that he was "bulls***ing".

Mr Lim was left with blood on his wrists and shirt following the arrest.

A crowd told Mr Lim's arrest was for holding an offensive sign, can be heard telling police their actions were "ridiculous" and "disgusting".

Snr Const Hans said he had not taken statements from any of the crowd as their opinions were "not relevant".

Two of those bystanders gave evidence in court on Wednesday that they had not found Mr Lim "offensive".

Mr Lim, caught in the footage struggling for breath and sitting on the ground in handcuffs, had attempted to explain to the police that he had reason to believe the sign was not offensive, following a previous court case.

In August 2017, a NSW District Court judge overturned an earlier conviction of Mr Lim's as well as a $500 fine after finding a sign worn in 2015 mocking then-prime minister Tony Abbott was unlikely to offend the average Australian.

Using an inverted A in the word "can't", those signs said: "TONY YOU CAN'T. LIAR, HEARTLESS, CRUEL" and "TONY YOU CAN'T SCREW EDUCATION."

Police said they did not investigate his claims before fining him.

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