Court Rules Against Planned Sydney Protest Due to Virus Fear
Friday, 5 June 2020 23:41 WIB | GLOBAL |Global

An Australian court sided with police in ruling Friday that a Black Lives Matter protest planned for Sydney poses too much risk for spreading the coronavirus and cannot be held.

Thousands of people were expected to rally in Australia's largest city on Saturday afternoon to honor George Floyd and to protest against the deaths of indigenous Australians in custody.

But New South Wales state Supreme Court Justice Des Fagan ruled the rally was not an authorized public assembly. Fagan said he understood the rally was designed to coincide with similar events in other countries.

"I don't diminish the importance of the issues and no one would deny them in normal circumstances," he said. "No one denies them that but we're talking about a situation of a health crisis."

In Sydney, outdoor gatherings are restricted to 10 people, while up to 50 people can go to funerals, places of worship, restaurants, pubs and cafes.

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said organizers initially proposed a protest far smaller rally. She said protesters could not guarantee social distancing protocols would be followed.

Earlier Friday, demonstrators in the capital reminded the country that racial inequality is not a U.S. issue alone. 

Organizers of the Canberra rally that attracted about 2,000 demonstrators handed out masks and hand sanitizer. Most protesters kept a recommended social distance but drew closer to hear speeches. Public gatherings are limited to 20 in Canberra, but police did not intervene.

School teacher Wendy Brookman, a member of the Butchulla indigenous people, said Australia should not accept that more than 430 indigenous Australians have died in police custody or prison in the past three decades.

One of the protesters' signs read "I can't breathe" and drew a parallel between Floyd's death in the U.S. on May 25 and the Australian indigenous experience. Those words were among the last spoken by Floyd and an indigenous Australian, David Dungay, who died in a prison hospital in 2015 while being restrained by five guards.

Source : VOA

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