The police in Australia are seeking to stop a Black Lives Matter protest from going ahead in Sidney this weekend, citing the coronavirus pandemic threats. Thousands of citizens are expected to join the protests in solidarity with the US and to highlight and express anger about indigenous racial discrimination.
The New South Wales Police department has applied for the court to halt the protests. On Friday, the Australian PM Scott Morrison also criticized the protests, urging the residents to not go in the protests.
Morrison asked the citizens to find a better way to express their solidarity and sentiments, rather than putting their health at risk, along with the health of others. As of Friday, the country has recorded 7,200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus pandemic with nearly 102 fatalities.
However, since April, the country has flattened its curve, as there have been no community transmissions in New South Wales for more than a week. Following the killing of an unarmed black man George Floyd in the US, Australians have protested against their country’s disproportionate number of black deaths in police custody.
Sydney, Perth, Canberra, and Brisbane have already faced protests, and more are planned for the weekend. In Melbourne, the police have also urged the residents not to join the demonstrations, threatening to issue fines if the organizers do not cancel the event.
Moreover, in Adelaide and Brisbane, demonstrations have already received police clearance. Since 1991, nearly 432 Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Australians have died in police custody, the data from Guardian suggested.
At least 100,000 people have expressed their interest in joining the solidarity protests in the city center on Sunday. The organizers have urged the participants to wear face masks and PPE and try to maintain distance from others.
Gladys Berijiklian, the state’s premier, said the protests had been initially approved, but the rising numbers of attendees have raised concerns about social distancing. Both government and the police asked the court to have the demonstrations deemed illegal. The decision is due later on Friday.
Several prominent protesters have said that they will join the protests and accused the government of stifling the freedom of speech. Mehreen Faruqi, a green senator, said that no doubt the pandemic is dangerous, but so is the racial discrimination in the country.
Earlier this week, the state’s police were heavily criticized over the controversial arrest of an Aboriginal teenager in Sydney. Mick Willing, the assistant commissioner, said that he hoped that the arrest would not spark the protests seen in the US.
The country has been slow in easing its coronavirus restrictions. NSW state has allowed the businesses to reopen, outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people are allowed and encouraged domestic travel. On Friday, the state recorded four new cases of coronavirus, all from returned travelers in quarantine.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org