• Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts speaks with media after being detained by NSW Police during a Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney. (AAP)Source: AAP
Protesters have been arrested at a Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney after police turned out in large numbers ahead of the event to enforce a decision made in the Supreme Court over the weekend.
Rachael Hocking, Keira Jenkins

28 Jul 2020 - 3:26 PM  UPDATED 28 Jul 2020 - 3:39 PM

Police have arrested six people at a Black Lives Matter rally at the Domain in Sydney.

Organiser Paddy Gibson was arrested by police before the rally's intended 12pm start time, and fined for breaching public health orders.

The rally was over before it could begin, with organisers posting on social media for people to stay away.

Aboriginal rights activist Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts was also arrested, despite protestors complying with COVID-19 restrictions, she said.

"We were following NSW Covid health restrictions, which is the 1.5 (metre), all wearing safe masks, all have hand sanitiser, all following and complying with what NSW have given us in terms of guidance and what to follow," said Ms Turnbull-Roberts.

"I am here literally exercising my right to just walk into a park. A dear friend of mine happened to be arrested, handed me the microphone, and I was telling everybody to move on, actually complying with what the police orders were, and have now been fined myself.

"The only people who aren't exercising a 1.5 distance is NSW police force."

Ms Turnbull-Roberts and Mr Gibson were later released from police custody with $1,000 fines.

Heavy police presence

There was a large police presence at the Domain, including riot police and dog squads, with police numbers far exceeding that of of protesters.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Rick Willing said there were "many hundred" officers in attendance.

He said the protesters were arrested "for a reason".

"We don't know where this disease, the way it will evolve," he said.

"We don't know whether or not someone does turn up at a public gathering carrying the disease, that's the problem with this. Again, we are not anti-protest.

"Just don't do it in the middle of a pandemic. Quite simple."

The rally was declared unauthorised by the Supreme court on the weekend, a decision which was upheld at an appeal on Monday.

Organisers said the event would go ahead with appropriate social distancing, mask wearing and hand hygiene measures in place.

The family of David Dungay Jr, who died in custody at Long Bay jail in 2015, were involved in organising the rally.

They said on Monday that the event would be postponed if the NSW Premier committed to asking WorkSafe and the director of public prosecutions to investigate laying charges against the guards involved in the Dunghutti man's death.

Ms Turnbull-Roberts said it is time for governments to take action on black deaths in custody.

"It is about justice for David Dungay Jr, and all the black lives that have been taken by this same institution," she said.

"First nations people here in this country, we hold the highest rates of incarceration. And the injustices in this country needs to be addressed, and it needs to be spoken about.

"And there is an onus on this government to start exercising change."

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