An iconic Sydney activist has been left unable to speak properly after a violent ‘unprovoked’ arrest left him with a brain injury.
Danny Lim, 78 – famous for walking around Sydney wearing sandwich style boards telling people to ‘smile’ – was forced to the ground by two NSW Police officers in the city’s Queen Victoria Building shortly before 11am on Tuesday.
The incident was captured on camera by a shocked bystander. Police ‘discontinued’ their arrest after Mr Lim’s head cracked against the tiled floors, leaving him with a blackeye and a bloody cheek.
Mr Lim, who weighs just 50kgs, was then rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital. Daily Mail Australia can reveal he has not been able to communicate properly – a common symptom of serious brain traumas – since the injury.
Sydney activist Danny Lim, 78, was left with a brain injury after a violent arrest in the CBD’s Queen Victoria Building (pictured, Mr Lim immediately after the arrest)
Mr Lim suffered a ‘subdural haematoma’, bruising between he skull and brain surface, when he hit his head during the arrest (pictured, Mr Lim in hospital on Tuesday)
Mr Lim has been diagnosed with a ‘subdural haematoma’ – a bruise between the surface of the brain and the skull.
High-profile defence lawyer Chris Murphy is supporting Mr Lim and said he was in a ‘very poor state’ and ‘unable to communicate clearly’.
Mr Murphy said Mr Lim was walking along a corridor connecting the QVB to Town Hall train station when the arrest unfolded.
‘You can see his Opal (transport) card next to him. He was walking to Town Hall station, on his way home, but paused at a telephone shop because he knew the owner,’ Mr Murphy told Daily Mail Australia.
‘He’s a chatter, he wanted to have a chat!
‘The owner was serving a customer so Mr Lim was waiting outside when police arrived.’
A witness-captured video shows Mr Lim struggling against police before falling and slamming his head against the tiles (above)
Criminal defence lawyer Chris Murphy said Mr Lim was waiting to talk to a friend when police told him to leave the building (pictured, Mr Murphy left and Mr Lim right)
Mr Murphy said several shop owners witnessed the incident and told lawyers Mr Lim was never asked to leave by anyone around the phone shop.
‘One woman was very distressed and filmed it,’ he said.
‘They all say the way police were harassing him was unnecessary. He was on his way home, he was harmless.’
Mr Lim has become a beloved figure in the city and is famous for wearing signs proclaiming peace, love and happiness with the support of his 17-year-old pet chihuahua-pomeranian, Smarty.
He’s held a unique presence in the city for several years and is often greeted with high-fives and selfies wherever he goes.
An expert who analysed the footage of Mr Lim’s arrest claims it shows one of the officers deliberately moved their leg and caused the elder to fall.
Photos from the scene of the arrest show Mr Lim’s pension Opal travel card among his scattered belongings (above)
Mr Lim’s ‘discontinued’ arrest was staged in the corridor connecting the QVB to the Town Hall train station (pictured, a map of Town Hall station showing the corridor top left)
The damning clip shows Mr Lim attempting to charge forward away from the arrest while calling for help when the officer on his left put a leg out in front, tripping him.
‘That leg sweep was very dangerous,’ the expert insight revealed to Daily Mail Australia reads.
‘They both had his arms so he couldn’t break his fall. They did not attempt to save his fall either.’
The move is reportedly part of standard police procedure.
Mr Murphy said Mr Lim remains in a ‘very poor state’ and is ‘unable to communicate clearly’.
‘Two people from my office are with him at the hospital,’ he said.
‘He’s so small, he only weighs about 50kg.
‘Police have put out this story of a nasty man. Whenever I’ve encountered him, I’ve felt happy.’
Mr Lim (pictured at Town Hall train station on Saturday) is famous around Sydney for his sandwich-style boards spreading messages of love, happiness and peace
An expert who analysed footage of Mr Lim’s arrest claims it shows an officer purposely tripping the elder (above)
NSW Police released a statement on Tuesday night saying Mr Lim’s arrest will be investigated.
‘An independent review will examine the actions of police during the arrest of a 78-year-old man in Sydney’s CBD earlier today,’ the statement said.
‘Shortly before 11am, officers from Sydney City Police Area Command were called by security to a shopping complex on George Street after a male had failed to leave the building when asked.
‘Police will allege the man was subsequently issued with a move on direction by officers and failed to comply.
‘As inquiries into the incident continue, an independent review has been launched, which will examine the actions of police during the incident.’
A NSW Police spokesperson added on Wednesday: ‘The matter has been triaged as a complaint and allocated to an investigator from another command within Central Metropolitan Region.
‘In accordance with the NSW Police Force corporate policy on complaint handling and management, the internal investigation will have oversight from the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.’
Mr Lim was pictured in his hospital bed on Tuesday afternoon with a bleeding cheek and his famous smile.
Mr Lim (pictured with his dog, Smarty) was left with a black eye, cut cheek and serious brain damage from the arrest
WHO IS DANNY LIM?
Mr Lim says he was orphaned at just five months old and was raised by his Chinese grandmother in a small village about 90km away from Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.
As part of of Chinese ethnic minority, Mr Lim grew up surrounded by racism and institutionalised discrimination.
He moved to Sydney’s Summer Hill in 1963 on a student visa but found he was again surrounded by racist attitudes.
Mr Lim studied and worked as an electrical technician before retiring at 59 to pursue a career of politics.
In 2003 he was elected onto Strathfield’s council and just one year later, in 2004, held his first ever sandwich board protest during a corruption scandal.
It read: ‘Strathfield Council, have some morals! Stand down!’
He worked as a councillor for eight years, resigning in 2011 after a series of controversies led to voters making death threat against him and his pup Smarty, then six years old.
During his time in office he made more than 100 motions, became the first councillor in more than 120 years to win a no confidence vote against the mayor and faced down 18 breach of conduct claims.
He also infamously won the Sexist Remarks Ernie Award for telling a Judge to buy a vibrator so she could ‘stop screwing with the people of Strathfield and screw herself instead’.
In 2016 he attempted to reignite his political career by running for federal senate.
By this time Mr Lim was a familiar face around Sydney and known for his signs advocating love, peace and smiling.
His campaign focused ‘welfare, not warfare’ and claimed everyone should have a ‘fair go, fair dinkum’.
Mr Lim has had several run-ins with Sydney police.
In January 2019 he was arrested for wearing a sign reading ‘SMILE CVN’T! WHY CVN’T’ but was cleared of charges after a judge found his sign was cheeky, but not illegal.