Organisers of a planned Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney have urged the Supreme Court of NSW to allow the march to continue as planned, saying that protest is essential to democracy.
NSW Police are seeking to have the court prohibit the planned 500-person march, planned by the family of Dunghitti man David Dungay, who died in police custody in 2015.
The protest, which is set to take place Tuesday July 28, will see participants march from Sydney Town Hall to Parliament House to present a petition.
A prohibition order would not ban the march outright, but it would leave participants open to criminal charges for breaching public health orders, blocking roads, and similar offences.
Barrister Felicity Graham, who represents the Sydney rally organisers, said in a submission yesterday that protest is vital to democracy.
She said: “Going to the aquarium, going to sex-on-premises venues, going to football matches – these aren’t essential to our democracy. Protest is.”
She added that Sydney protesters will take health and safety into consideration, saying:
“People know this is not business as usual. They’re protesting in a COVID world … and adjust their behaviours accordingly.”
Michael Spartalis, a lawyer acting for NSW Police, has pointed to advice from public health authorities that risk of COVID-19 transmission at the planned rally is “medium.”
“If someone is infected at the assembly and infects someone else, the effects are exponential and the consequences are significant,” he said.
The court is expected to rule on the Sydney rally tomorrow.