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Australia police strip protester down to her underwear; act caught on video

Australia police strip an Occupy Melbourne protester of her tent costume and leave her in her bra and panties on the ground.

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Police stripped an Occupy Melbourne protester down to her underwear Tuesday, an act that promptly went viral on YouTube and prompted an ethics investigation.

The protester, identified only as Sarah, 20, was wearing a tent converted into a costume when police moved in on her and similarly clad demonstrators, the Melbourne Sun Herald reported.


The video shows officers using a knife to cut away Sarah’s tent as she protests "This is not consensual" and witnesses yell "Shame" and epithets at the police.

Officers are shown walking away with the seized tent as Sarah is left in just bra and panties on the grass and other protesters bring her a blanket.

The incident was part of a police sweep in which three protesters were arrested as officers enforced city orders requiring demonstrators to take down tents and tarpaulins, The Associated Press reported.

Victoria police late Tuesday said the Ethical Standards Department was investigating the stripping.

''The Ethical Standards Department has subsequently received a physical assault complaint in relation to this incident and is investigating. As this investigation is ongoing we will not be commenting further.''

Police earlier told the Sun Herald that they warned protesters that if they chose not to wear clothes under the tents, they would be given time to dress before the costumes were seized.

Three of four protesters cooperated, police said.

"The fourth, a female, refused to comply with direction," police said , according to the Sun Herald report.

Protest organizers said in a statement that police targeted Sarah and knew she was not clothed underneath the tent.

"The severed costume was violently torn from her body while the protester herself was discarded, semi-naked and crying on the ground," they said. 

This story includes reporting by The Associated Press.

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