The organisers of Sydney’s upcoming Black Lives Matter rally have reminded attendees to follow strict coronavirus safety practices, after the NSW police commissioner said he will challenge the event’s permit on public health grounds.
Advocacy group Justice for David Dungay Jnr today reiterated that protestors at the Tuesday, July 28 event must wear masks, exercise social distancing, and stay home if they have so much as a sniffle.
Attendees have also been asked to avoid public transport while travelling to and from the event, and to wash or sanitise their hands as often as possible once they arrive.
Advocates say that volunteers will collect the contact information of attendees to aid in contact tracing efforts should a coronavirus case be linked to the event.
The announcement mirrors the safety advice handed out by organisers before June’s Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne, which drew an estimated 10,000 people.
As it stands, more than 1,300 Facebook users have indicated they will attend the upcoming Sydney event, while a further 3,200 say they’re interested.
That number will be zero if NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has his way.
Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Commissioner Fuller said he intended to contest the event’s permit before the Supreme Court and argued the event could spark a new coronavirus outbreak in Sydney.
Commissioner Fuller said a viral boom linked to the protest could put “NSW back five or 10 years economically,” claiming “that’s exactly what we saw in Victoria.”
He added that officers will be instructed to hand out fines to protestors found to violate the state’s ongoing restrictions on public gatherings of more than 20 people.
However, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services last week disputed the stubborn claim that Melbourne’s protest contributed to surging case numbers in the state, saying “there is no evidence to suggest” demonstrators who eventually tested positive for COVID-19 “acquired the virus from the protest.”
Plans for another Sydney demonstration come amid renewed public focus on the 2015 death of David Dungay Jr, a 26-year-old Dunghutti man who died in custody at New South Wales’ Long Bay jail hospital.
Speaking to NITV News, Paul Silva, Dungay Jr’s nephew, said, “Police always want to stop these protests regardless of any pandemic or what’s happening in the world.”
A petition calling for charges to be laid over his death has surpassed 90,000 signatures. Protest organisers say they will present it to the NSW Parliament next week.
NSW recorded 16 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours leading up to 8pm Tuesday.