This weekend’s protests have been met with heavy resistance, with police all over Australia warning they’ll take “appropriate actions” should rallies go ahead.
The government is concerned a second wave of coronavirus infections will sweep through the country, especially given the news that a Melbourne protester from last weekend’s rallies had since tested positive to COVID-19.
Some protests have been entirely prohibited, while other states have allowed protests to go ahead if social distancing is followed.
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Refugee rights rallies have been organised by Refugee Action Coalition in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne today.
Black lives matter protests have also continued throughout the day.
This time, there was no last minute rescue from the Supreme Court to bail Sydney protesters out of legal trouble.
The NSW Supreme Court on Thursday prohibited the “Free the refugees” protest scheduled for this afternoon on the basis the health risks “outweigh the rights of public assembly and free speech”.
Police were out in force today, warning they “will not hesitate to take the appropriate action” against those who attend.
But Refugee Action Coalition organiser James Supple refused to cancel the protest and it’s still set to go ahead.
It comes as around 300 protesters showed up to Friday night’s Black Lives Matter rally in the Sydney CBD, and were outnumbered two-to-one by a strong police presence.
NSW Police have warned attendees can be potentially arrested or fined $1000.
One person, a 24-year-old woman, was issued a fine for disobeying a move-on direction at the protest on Friday night.
In Melbourne, organisers have said they plan to abide by physical-distancing restrictions by hosting the protests in eight separate locations across the city.
Queensland Police has discouraged people from attending protests, suggesting they instead protest from home or on social media, but they haven’t outright banned it.
“While the Queensland Police Service respects the right for lawful and peaceful protests … violent or criminal behaviour will not be tolerated,” the statement read.
In Brisbane, asylum seeker and refugee rights protesters have been camped outside a hotel believed to be housing asylum seekers.
Last night, video footage showed three activists jumping on top of a van to prevent the removal of an asylum seeker.
This morning, police arrested a 26-year-old East Brisbane woman and a 23-year-old West End woman for public nuisance, as they had climbed on top of the van again.
SA Police said protesters will face prosecution if they attend Black Lives Matters demonstrations this weekend.
Despite the warning, a few protesters have gathered in Victoria Square, in Adelaide’s CBD.
Organisers cancelled the event earlier this week after police ruled out granting an exemption to the coronavirus restrictions to allow the today’s protest to go ahead.
Police had warned demonstrators could be fined for breaching COVID-19 restrictions, however, protesters say they’re following social distancing rules.
Protests kicked off in Darwin this morning, with people gathering in Darwin’s Civic Park.
The ABC reported a turnout of over 1000 people.
Organisers Sharna Alley and Mililama May lodged a COVID-19 safety plan with the NT Government, which is required for events with over 500 attendees.
Public Health Officers are on the scene, putting up signs around Darwin’s Civic Park to promote social distancing at the demonstration, which was given the thumbs up from NT’s Chief Health Officer.
WA’s Premier urged organisers to postpone a protest planned for later on today and the City of Perth refused to grant a permit for it.
But organisers won’t be dissuaded.
Between 8,000 and 15,000 people are expected to attend today.
Perth City Council says Langley Park West could accommodate approximately 20,000 people at 1.5 metre distancing with overflow space also available if required.
Some 11,000 masks will be handed out people attending the rally, with organisers insisting they were taking precautionary steps to protect the health of protesters.
Premier Mark McGowan has been adamant the event should not go ahead, but he didn’t actually ban the protest.