Protesters have vowed to push ahead with a Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney today, despite it being ruled illegal.
The NSW Supreme Court yesterday said the protest, which was expected to draw a crowd of more than 5000 people outside Sydney Town Hall, would violate the state’s coronavirus restrictions and risk spreading the disease.
“For the court to authorise (the protest) would amount to a defiance of orders made by the government,” Justice Desmond Fagan said.
Event organisers had argued they could socially distance and provide hand sanitiser to attendees, but Justice Desmond Fagan said the measures would not be enough to reduce the risk of infection.
“I cannot accept these proposals take place of the public health order which for the time being prohibits the gathering of more than 10 people,” he said.
Current rules in NSW mean 50 people cannot gather together for any event.
But Greens MP David Shoebridge, who was cross examined at the hearing, said he expected the rally to go ahead.
“I will expect that a significant number of First Nations people will still come out tomorrow,” he said.
Organiser Raul Bassi also said he would continue to fight for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I will never lose my decision to fight for what is true … I am never going to stop doing that,” he said.
Thousands of people are expected to gather in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart to show solidarity with African-American George Floyd, who died while being arrested in Minneapolis.
But the protests are also a show of support to the Aboriginal community to highlight high levels of indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody.
The mother of David Dungay, an indigenous man who died in Sydney’s Long Bay jail in late 2015, said she would be marching regardless of the Supreme Court ruling.
“I’m marching for my son … Nothing is stopping me. I don’t care if they shoot me,” Leetona Dungay said.
NSW Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing has warned police will be out “in numbers” to enforce the court’s decision, and has encouraged protesters to instead express their views “in a different manner”.
“The Supreme Court has made its decision and it’s a decision we all must abide by,” he said on Friday night.
“Obviously we are very aware and very attuned to the sensitivities around this matter. Police facilitate public gatherings all year round in the city,” he explained.
“At this point we need to abide by the health order and the health advice that’s been given. I would ask that people not attend tomorrow. Express your views and your opinions in a different manner at this time.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also urged Australians not to attend protests.
“Australians have worked incredibly hard in recent months and have undergone great sacrifices to protect the health of the most vulnerable, and that does include our indigenous communities,” Mr Morrison.
Victorians have been told not to attend the rallies out of concern it could spark a second wave of cases.
South Australians have been granted a permission to attend a protest in Adelaide.
– With wires