SYDNEY (AP) – Police arrested a leader of an anti-racism protest and shut down the demonstration before it started yesterday after courts ruled the gathering in downtown Sydney was illegal due to the coronavirus pandemic threat.
Organiser Paddy Gibson was among six people arrested in a park known as The Domain before the rally was due to start at noon. Two police officers were photographed leading a defiant Gibson away.
Police outnumbered protesters. Officers told demonstrators to move on as they arrived and the area was cleared 15 minutes before the scheduled start. New South Wales state Assistant Police Commissioner Mick Willing said five protesters were issued USD710 fines for breaching pandemic crowd restrictions. Another protester was charged with using offensive language.
“We are not anti-the-right-to-protest. This is about public safety,” Willing said.
“We understand that the issues that are in question here are significant and are sensitive to a lot of people. However, we must do what we can to ensure that the public in general are safe at this time,” he added.