THE funeral of Cockburn councillor Steve Portelli descended into a political circus this week over his signature campaign in support of Roe 8.
Cr Portelli’s partner had invited Roe 8 supporters to the ceremony, but they photo-bombed two councillors opposed to the highway extension who say the antics went too far and they felt harrassed.
Photos of one of the councillors next to the signs was uploaded to a social media site.
“My wife was really upset and my son was upset,” says Cr Philip Eva, who attended with his family.
He said one of the supporters came up behind him, trying to take a photo of him with a placard.
“I didn’t think it was right. He didn’t ask my permission for it.”
Cr Chontelle Sands said she was ambushed by the group. “They were trying to take selfies and photo bomb us with these placards and it got quite confronting”.
“Trying to get away from it was actually quite hard. The only way I got away was I had to knock the hat off one of the guys that had a placard.”
Cr Sands claims that later at around 11.30pm she and her young children were woken to the sounds of yelling and obscenities in their street, as a car pulled up and a placard similar to the ones seen at the funeral, was left on the bonnet of her car.
“To follow that through with leaving a placard on the bonnet of my car in my street, that was uncalled for. Coming to my house and scaring my children.”
Spokesperson for the Portelli family, Steve Greenwood, says they are extremely angry at Cr Sands’ response to the situation, calling it “political manoeuvring”.
They’ve asked for a retraction and apology.
“We should all be letting Steve rest in peace, this is absolutely ridiculous what’s gone on here,” Mr Greenwood says.
“She talked about protesters at the funeral, there were no protesters. They were invited guests by the family.”
“Steve’s partner said to them bring signs, bring everything because that’s remembering Steve as we knew him.”
A photo of Cr Sands was uploaded to the Facebook page Pro Roe 8- S.O.S.- Build It by one of its administrators, Jason Spanbroek (Cr Portelli was also a member of this Facebook group), along with the caption: “Good to see Chontelle Sandwich has seen the light and is in full support of the ROE 8-9 as the new design includes a mono-rail!”.
But Mr Spanbroek told the Chook Ms Sands was never harassed and had posed for cameras.
“The fact that it was posted on the Pro Roe 8 page… the fact that it had that caption is indicative that it was an absolute joke,” says Mr Spanbroek.
“We were requested to be visual and vocal at the funeral by his partner and all four of his daughters.
“The fact that Sharon, his partner, at the end of his eulogy said ‘and this one’s for Steve, go Roe 8’, is indicative of what Steve was so passionate about.”
Mr Spanbroek says he’s unaware who placed the placard on Cr Sands’ car, but says; “sticking a placard on someone’s car, we’ve had advice, it’s hardly illegal.”
Mr Greenwood said the incident at Cr Sands’ house later that night was “not on”.
“I can understand people were annoyed that Chontelle was at the funeral, but at the end of the day… it shouldn’t have happened.
“I don’t know who did that but it shouldn’t have happened.
Cr Portelli died suddenly on Australia Day. He was a Cockburn councillor for six years.
by EMILEE NEESON