Government prohibits ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, but will let you do these things

UPDATE: After a last minute appeal, the Sydney Black Lives Matter protests have been made lawful.

Australia-wide protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been prohibited by authorities. The ‘Stop All Black Deaths in Custody‘ protests were scheduled for today (June 6th), and slated to take place in every state capital. Over 30,800 people are expected to attend the Sydney contingent.

The NSW Supreme Court have prohibited Black Lives Matter demonstrations, arguing that the events would breach public health safety in the wake of COVID-19. Victoria Police have followed up by announcing that protest organisers will be fined if over 20 people attend the event. In light of public outrage at these rulings, we have compiled a list of some of the activities the government are more than happy to let you do instead.

Photo: Speed Media/REX/Shutterstock

Since the 1991 Royal Commission, over 400 Indigenous people have lost their lives in police custody. Not a single conviction has been made. Now, the Australian Government are prohibiting protests calling for justice, due to public health concerns. They’re happy for today’s 5G rally to go ahead though.

“I don’t diminish the importance of the issues and no one would deny them in normal circumstances,” NSW Supreme Court Justice Desmond Fagan told press. “No one denies them that but we’re talking about a situation of a health crisis.”

During hearings, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chanttold informed the court that the demonstration could “increase the risk of community-acquired infections and the seeding of clusters.”

Last week, national demonstrations protesting COVID-19 restrictions, mandatory vaccinations, and 5G technology occurred. It was reported that over 500 individuals gathered in Sydney, breaking social distancing restrictions enforced at the time. When questioned about these ongoing rallies three weeks ago, Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded “it’s a free country.” This is the same Prime Minister who has been pushing for State Governments to ease their pandemic restrictions while cases climbed, now claiming that public health is the highest priority.

A contingent to this demonstration, the ‘Anti-5G Rally! Sydney + Worldwide’ is also scheduled for today (June 6th). Authorities have not imposed any sanctions on this event from occurring.

NSW Premiere Gladys Berejiklian has also announced that fans will be allowed back into NRL games from next Thursday. With State officials considering NRL stadiums under the same category as pubs and restaurants, up to 50 patrons are allowed, with a one-person per four-square-metre rule currently applying.

Essentially, this means that it is considered ‘safe’ to be drinking in a sweaty pub, and/or footy stadium with 49 other people, however an outdoor gathering of 20 people in Victoria is considered a public health risk.

To add even more fuel to the flame, NSW Police Minister David Elliot told Macquarie Radio that “anybody who goes to a mass gathering during a pandemic is certifiably insane, they are nuts.” He also said that he would outlaw public protests completely if he had the power.

On the Facebook event for Sydney’s ‘Stop All Black Deaths in Custody’ protest, organisers have provided the following information:

“The event will also be live-streamed in its entirety on Facebook and Zoom… Please take physical distancing measures by standing 1.5 metres apart and wearing a face mask for the duration of the vigil. If you are feeling unwell, please do not attend. There will be opportunities to participate in ongoing actions online and in-person in future. From June 1, outdoor gatherings will be restricted to no more than 50 people.”

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, additional details have been added:

“The Supreme Court has decided that we, as the organisers, are no longer in control of, or able to make tomorrow’s event safer. Any gathering happening tomorrow will not be officially organised by us, and will be susceptible to NSW Police intervention. All legal protections for anyone attending the event have also been suspended… We urge anybody still wishing to attend as an individual to maintain a distance of 1.5m and face masks to ensure safety. We have excess masks and sanitiser which will be distributed to the public near town hall, unrelated to any gathering.”

It must be noted that the NSW Supreme Court does not have to power to “ban” any protest within the state, rather the power to authorise or prohibit a demonstration. The de-authorisation of today’s protests means that participants must stick to the footpath at all times, not doing so could incur a penalty of $440 for obstructing traffic.

In this case, protestors are subject to police arrest by breaking state Coronavirus restrictions, however Australian Criminal and Family Lawyers have announced it is very unlikely for this to occur due to the volumes of people attending. As per Schedule 4 of the Public Health Regulation (2012) NSW, the maximum fine that a police officer can issue an individual for breaking restrictions is $1000. Find out more here about your rights and legal protections if attending.