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Citing health concerns, Gladys Berejiklian has moved to shut down this weekend’s protest highlighting racial violence authored by the state.
The NSW police will take the organisers of this weekend’s Black Lives Matter protest to the Supreme Court, citing a ‘flagrant disregard’ of social distancing rules. Fronting the media, Gladys Berejiklian said it “never was and never will be” the state’s intention to allow thousands of people to be “flagrantly disregarding the health orders”.
“Today, NSW has been very successful only because all of us have taken the hard yards, of making those difficult decisions,” she said.
The protest was motivated by the Minneapolis police killing American man George Floyd, and the 423 indigenous Australians who have died in custody since 1991 without a solitary conviction.
“As of this morning, that had escalated to potentially 10,000 protesters turning up and the organiser, himself, admitted that he couldn’t ensure that the protesters could adhere to ,” said Police Commissioner Mick Fuller. Officially, no more than 500 can be present in a public space, with the Premier labelling the protest “illegal”.
Raul Bassi of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, one of the groups organising the protest, said concerns over the number of attendees was only raised this morning.
“Instead of using guns to stop us, like in the US, they use the laws to stop us,” he said. “We will put forward our case this afternoon and see what happens.”
Ms Berejiklian has said she has “empathy for people who feel strongly about the issue at heart” of Saturday’s planned Sydney protest, but the event presents a public health issue.
The Premier said she would not comment about the issue being protested – the death of George Floyd in the US and local Indigenous deaths in custody – because she “knows passions are high”.
According to Fuller, the only legal means to squash the protest was to speak to the Supreme Court. “If hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people turn up, then they’re in breach of the health order and, if they haven’t complied with the Supreme Court, then obviously all of the police powers available to us can be used,” he said.