Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Court rules against planned Sydney protest due to virus fear

Published:Friday | June 5, 2020 | 9:38 AM
Protesters gather in Sydney, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, to support the cause of US protests over the death of George Floyd and urged their own governments to address racism and police violence. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

SYDNEY (AP) — 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 honour 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 authorised 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 organisers initially proposed a protest far smaller rally.

She said protesters could not guarantee social distancing protocols would be followed.

“All of us have given up so much and worked so hard to make sure we get on top of the virus,” Berejiklian told reporters.

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

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