• NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging people not to attend the protests. (AAP)Source: AAP
NSW Police lodge injunction to supreme court to block planned Black Lives Matter protest march in Sydney from going ahead on Saturday due to potential COVID-19-related social distancing and restrictions breaches.
By
Jack Latimore

Source:
NITV News
5 Jun 2020 - 1:10 PM  UPDATED 5 Jun 2020 - 2:28 PM

The NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said she supported an a police application to the state's supreme court on Friday to stop a Black Lives Matter rally from going ahead in Sydney on the weekend.

NSW Police made the application for an injunction to the state's Supreme Court on Friday to make the rally illegal.

Ms Berejiklian said that it had become clear to NSW Police that the size of the gathering  would exceed the projected numbers of the initial application made to council to hold the rally.

"The police commissioner and I discussed the fact that the police commissioner would apply to the supreme court to have the intended protest tomorrow that was intended to go ahead deemed illegal," said Ms Berejiklian. 

"All of us have given up so much and worked so hard to make sure we get on top of the virus. What this protest has turned into is a flagrant disregard of the health rules. We can't afford to have exceptions for anyone."

COVID-19 health orders in NSW currently restrict outdoor gatherings to 500 people.

The NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller said the application for an injunction was lodged after monitoring increasing public interest in attending the demonstration on social media.

"This protest, in particular, has grown in numbers," he said.

"As of this morning, [the numbers] had escalated to a potentially 10,000 protestors turning up and the organiser himself admitted that he couldn't ensure that the protestors could adhere to his form, or the current health orders."

NSW police minister David Elliot and the NSW treasurer Dominic Perrotet also opposed the planned demonstration earlier on Friday.

Mr Elliot said people who planned to attend the protest march were "nuts" and "not of sound mind".

Mr Perrotet likened the prospect of attending the demonstration as returning home to his six children every day.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge described the decision to seek an injunction against the rally as "unhelpful".

"What's needed now is cooperation, understanding and peacefully working together, not court orders and the implicit threat of more police violence," he said.

Sydney protest organisers and Aboriginal Elders will address the media outside the supreme court in Sydney at 2.30pm.

The Sydney demonstration follows several heavily attended rallies and vigils already held in cities and regional towns around Australia – including Perth and Brisbane.

It also follows a host of international demonstrations of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the death of African American man, George Floyd close to a fortnight ago. 

Similar demonstrations are planned over the weekend in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Newcastle and elsewhere around the country. 

Earlier on Friday the nation's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said attending the rallies was not a good idea due to COVID-19 risks. 

Yesterday the PM was reported as saying Australia did not need to draw equivalence between US black deaths in custody in the US and black deaths in custody in Australia. 

“We should be Australians about it,” said Mr Morrison.

In Victoria, the state's deputy police commissioner Shane Patton on Friday confirmed the organisers of Melbourne's planned rally would be fined for breaching COVID-19 health orders if more than 20 people turned up at the rally.

In South Australia, police commissioner Grant Stevens announced that he would allow a demonstration to proceed in Adelaide.

"We have given due consideration to the circumstances that have resulted in this rally being organised, and we’ve also taken into account advice from the Chief public health officer," said Mr Stevens in a written statement on Friday.

"We have approved the gathering to occur from 12 o’clock tomorrow afternoon in Victoria Square and we are also contemplating that there may be a march associated with that particular event.

"Whilst the exemption being provided allows for the gathering to exceed the numbers which are defined in the direction, we are expecting that people will still buy by the social distancing rules and insure proper hygiene practices are in place."

- More to come.