New South Wales Police will attempt to block another Black Lives Matter protest slated for next week, with thousands planning to attend despite rising coronavirus cases.
Commissioner Mick Fuller told Nine Radio organisers had lodged an application for the protest in late July, but police would fight to ensure it doesn’t go ahead.
So far more than 1000 people have indicated on social media they are going to the event, with a further 3000 interested in attending.
Commissioner Fuller urged people to stay away.
“Relying on some pretty good intelligence out of Victoria, we know how dangerous these protests can be in terms of health,” he said.
“We know from the Victorian protest that it put a lot of lives at risk and it’s just not worth it.
“From our perspective it was obviously big numbers in Victoria and a number of people that came to the protest were living in those vertical towers so that certainly is enough for me.”
Commissioner Fuller said if the police did not manage to block the event in the Supreme Court, he would instruct officers to issue thousands of tickets for people in crowds breaching health orders.
Appealing directly to protesters, he said: “Now whether I can write 2000 or 3000 [tickets] I don’t know, but do you want to be that person to get the first ticket?”
It’s not the first time police have fought a Black Lives Matter rally.
Last month a protest went ahead after organisers launched a successful last-minute appeal to overturn a NSW Supreme Court decision ruling it was not authorised.
The protest ended in ugly scenes at Sydney’s Central Station where police used pepper spray on protesters.
Commissioner Fuller said the fact the rally went ahead “led to a lot of frustration” in the community.
“A lot of people have made lots of sacrifices and then seeing big numbers of people on the TV clearly flouting the health laws and the Premier’s advice, I think a lot of people were frustrated about that.”
In a Facebook post, organisers provided a COVID-19 safety checklist for attendees, including a warning for anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms to not attend.
“While large crowds continue to gather in Sydney for commercial purposes – including at markets, shopping centres, workplaces, sporting grounds and corporate venues where crowds are much tighter packed than at a socially distanced rally – we will continue to assert our rights to protest,” the post said.
NSW recorded 20 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours before 8pm on Sunday night.
It follows a further 18 cases recorded the day before.