Australian Police Will Fine And Arrest Black Lives Matter Protesters
Police have urged people not to attend a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Sydney this weekend, warning protesters they will face fines or arrest if they take part.
Thousands of people have expressed interest in one particular rally taking place this evening, June 12, despite the fact it has been deemed ‘unauthorised’ by law enforcement officials.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said protesters will be fined $1,000 if they attend rallies – such as tonight’s – in breach of public health orders, citing significant health and safety concerns with regards to the global health crisis.
Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing has said it’s highly possible a large crowd could try and gather outside Sydney Town Hall this evening, even though the protest is unauthorised because police have not been formally notified.
Willing said police would deploy ‘significant resources’ to enforce the existing health order banning mass gatherings, which could include officers moving people on and potentially arresting them.
He also welcomed the NSW Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday night, June 11, to block a refugee rights protest scheduled for tomorrow, June 13. The rally, which was being organised by the Refugee Action Coalition, was scheduled to take place at Sydney Town Hall on Saturday afternoon.
The Assistant Commissioner said yesterday, as per The Guardian:
While the NSW Police Force recognises and supports the rights of individuals to exercise their right to free speech in normal circumstances, these are not normal circumstances.
I want to be clear about this – if people choose to break the law and attend this protest, police will not hesitate to take the appropriate action against them.
Justice Michael Walton, who granted the NSW police application for the protest to be declared a prohibited public gathering, said public health risks outweighed ‘the rights of public assembly and free speech’.
The NSW police minister, David Elliott, also welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision and said people could expect to be arrested if they attend, adding: ‘I urge those thinking of protesting despite the Supreme Court decision and against the health advice to promptly reconsider their plans.’
While there are usually around 800 protests in Sydney each year, Assistant Commissioner Willing said it simply wasn’t safe to hold such gatherings during a pandemic. It comes after a protester in Melbourne tested positive for coronavirus following a rally over the weekend.
It’s estimated around 10,000 people attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Melbourne on Saturday, June 6, with a man in his thirties developing symptoms 24 hours later.
While Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the man was ‘very unlikely’ to have acquired the virus at the protest, as per ABC News, he may have been infectious while there.
The protester did wear a mask, but health officials are still fearful the virus might have been passed on to others.
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