'Strong police presence' for NSW Black Lives Matter rally
Police and those rallying for Aboriginal rights are set to clash outside Sydney Town Hall after a court declined to authorise the rally.
The Stop All Black Deaths in Custody rally, expected to have 5000 people gather at 3pm on Saturday, failed to gain police or court approval.
But many protesters have publicly pledged to attend regardless, with the rally's original organisers also promising to hand out face masks and hand sanitiser nearby "unrelated to any gathering".
Being an unauthorised public assembly, police will be able to fine or arrest them for blocking roads or public transport services and for breaching COVID-19 public health orders.
"Police hold serious concerns about thousands of people gathering together in close proximity in the current health environment, as our priority is always community safety," NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said in a statement late on Friday.
"Police will have a strong presence (Saturday) to ensure the law is obeyed.
"If people choose to disobey the Supreme Court ruling and attend the planned protest regardless, they need to be aware they are doing so unlawfully and police will respond accordingly."
Leetona Dungay, whose son David died in Long Bay jail after shouting "I can't breathe" while being restrained, said she'd march regardless of court approval.
"I'm marching for my son and nothing is stopping me," she said before the court's decision.
"If we don't march tomorrow that means they'll keep killing people."
Police initiated the court action on Friday afternoon to stop the protest, but it became apparent during the four-hour Supreme Court hearing that the rally had never been deemed an authorised public assembly.
Justice Desmond Fagan then refused to approve it, citing the current coronavirus restrictions on mass gatherings.
Organisers now say their involvement has ceased but urged anyone still wishing to attend "as an individual" to obey social distancing and wear face masks to ensure safety.
"We have excess masks and sanitizer which will be distributed to the public near Town Hall, unrelated to any gathering," USYD Autonomous Collective Against Racism said on Facebook.
Originally published as 'Strong police presence' for Sydney rally