There are Protests Happening All Over Aus This Weekend ⁠— Here’s What You Need To Know

#BlackLivesMatterAustralia #IndigenousLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatterAustralia #IndigenousLivesMatter

This weekend, there are a number of protests all around Australia, in support of the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour communities both at home and around the globe. Over 17,000 have registered their interest in attending the Melbourne event, and more than 10,000 in Sydney (according to the respective Facebook Events) — far more than organisers or authorities were expecting earlier in the week. Which is great! But…

While peacefully protesting for what you believe in is, fortunately, a right in this country, it’s timing, unfortunately, coincides with a pandemic. Cue: back and forth all week (via phone calls, the media and legal system) between organisers, police, politicians and, ultimately as of this afternoon, the NSW Supreme Court, when an emergency injunction was sought and granted to stop the protests.

Echoing the sentiment of ScoMo and other politicians earlier in the day, Justice Desmond Fagan acknowledged that the “cause is one that is widely supported in the community and with great strength of feeling … But we are talking about a situation of a health crisis.” So, he sided with NSW Police, ruling the planned public gathering for the protest unlawful and in breach of the current Public Health Safety Laws. The ultimate IRL verdict, though: racism in Australia is a public crisis, too.

[Update: as of Saturday morning, the Sydney organisers have lodged an urgent appeal to the NSW Court of Appeal, citing advice and support from the legal community that the Supreme Court Judgement was flawed.]

Though the protests are now considered unlawful in most states due to public health safety laws restricting large gatherings, and protestors will not be exempt from these, this movement is simply too big to stop. The organised protests are going ahead regardless of whether the authorities want them to. Fines will be issued to those found breaching public health laws, but even the Victorian Police have admitted it’s going to be logistically impossible to issue fines to everyone in a crowd of 17,000.

SA has taken a different, and perhaps more realistic, approach, recognising that it would likely happen either way, so the planned protest in Victoria Square has been granted a one-off exemption, with SA’s Police Commissioner, Grant Stevens, saying they are “very keen to work with organisers to ensure it is peaceful and it’s conducted in accordance with the social distancing principles.”

Wherever you are, it is important to know your rights before you attend a protest. And with information constantly changing, be sure to check for any updates before you plan on heading to one in your town. Right now, as social distancing laws are still in place and enforceable in most states: you must stay 1.5m away from others, and if you are going with friends, don’t be in a ‘group’ that exceeds the state’s maximum outdoor gathering numbers. If you get in trouble with the police or encounter violence, it’s a good idea to film or have a friend film the interaction so that you have evidence. But it’s important not to take photos of other protestors during the event. 

Organisers are also advising attendees to wear a mask and comfortable clothing; stick with one close friend; bring water and snacks; and if you’re sick, immunocompromised or you live with people who are high-risk, you really should stay at home and show your support in other ways. Although the cases of COVID-19 are low in Australia now, because we all know it only takes one person to spread it to many, it is also suggested that people who attend self-quarantine for 14 days (so perhaps rethink plans for post-protest drinks). 

But if you can’t make the protest, that’s okay too. Protesting is only one form of activism. You can donate and continue to educate yourself; talk to your friends and family. Change really does start at home. So, it doesn’t matter how you do it, the only thing that matters right now is that we use our voices — on the streets, at the dinner table, and on the screen.

See below for all the details: 

Sydney

Stop All Black Deaths In Custody: Vigil For George Floyd
3-5pm, Saturday, June 6
Town Hall (moved from Chippendale to accommodate larger numbers than initially expected)

Melbourne

Stop Black Deaths in Custody – Justice for George Floyd #BLM
2-5pm, Saturday, June 6
Parliament House, Spring St

Brisbane

Black Lives Matter – Stop Black Deaths In Custody Meanjin (BNE)
1-5pm, Saturday, June 6
King George Square

Black Lives Matter Protest
12pm
Queen Street Mall (meet to march and join the protest at King George Square)

Perth

Perth Peaceful BLM/ILM Protest
12pm Saturday, June 13
Hyde Park

Adelaide

Solidarity with Minneapolis! Justice for George Floyd
12-1:30pm, Saturday, June 6
Victoria Square (Tarndanyangga)

Canberra

Black Lives Matter Peaceful Protest. Justice for George Floyd!
10.30am, Saturday June 6
Garema Place, Civic

Darwin

Solidarity for Aboriginal deaths in custody & BLM
3pm, Saturday, June 13
Parliament House

Byron Bay

Black Lives Matter
2pm, Saturday June 6
Byron Bay Recreation Grounds

Newcastle

Alice Springs

Black Lives Matter Protest
12pm, Saturday, June 6
Entrance to Yeperenye Shopping Centre

Cairns

Black Lives Matter Protest
3pm, Saturday, June 6
Fogarty Park

Wagga Wagga

Solidarity March – Black Lives Matter
10am, Saturday, June 6
Bolton Park

Townsville

Black Lives Matter Protest
TBC – Closer to NAIDOC Week
The Strand

Image source: Instagram

Protest Schedule sourced via Pedestrian.TV and Facebook.

For more information about protesting during a pandemic, our friends at Fashion Journal put together a great read here.

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