Second Wave of Protests in Australia Continue Despite Police Warnings

June 12, 2020 Updated: June 12, 2020

Protests against racism and asylum seeker policies will continue as planned across several Australian cities this weekend despite health measures and police warnings.

Government officials have warned that police will intervene if protestors disregard measures put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus.

This second wave of events is organized at locations in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. 

Having been working on reopening Australia’s economy and restoring the 800,000 jobs that were lost due to the CCP virus pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged people to think about the health risks involved in the protests, saying: “Turning up to a rally this weekend would show great disrespect to your neighbours.”

Speaking to 3AW on June 11, Morrison agreed with the assertion that people should be charged for violating health measures, saying: “I think they should. I mean, I really do think they should, because you can’t have a double standard here.”

New South Wales Protests

A protest by a group called the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) planned for Sydney was blocked by the Supreme Court on June 11. The judge ruled that the risk of spreading COVID-19 was too high to grant a license for the June 13 event.

The RAC organisers have said on social media that they would continue despite the court’s decision. 

“We are disappointed that this means any protest of more than 20 people in current circumstances will not get approval,” read a statement by RAC.

It goes on the say that ending “racist refugee policies” cannot wait several more months. The protest demands the release of refugees held in Papa New Guinea and Nauru.

New South Wales (NSW) Central Metropolitan Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing, issued a statement urging people not to attend the “unauthorised” protests.

“I want to be clear about this—if people choose to break the law and attend this protest, police will not hesitate to take the appropriate action against them,” Willing said.

Current laws being enforced for the protection of public health mean unlawful assemblies of more than 10 people can be penalized, and so might people who obstruct traffic during protests. 

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said that anyone breaking a public health order would be fined $1,000, then asked to move on, and if they did not comply, they would be arrested. Fines can tally up to $10,000 if settled through the court system.

Protests planned for Sydney’s Town Hall on June 12 will focus on the Long Bay Prison where riots broke out—and were broken up with the use of tear gas—over the disruption of illicit drug trafficking into the prison caused by the CCP virus pandemic, according to 9News, who cited a “prison boss” as a source.

Inmates spelled out “BLM” (Black Lives Matter) after guards used tear gas to break up the brawls. 

Victoria Protests

The Refugee Action Collective plans to hold eight small rallies across Melbourne on Saturday afternoon against the long-term detention of asylum seekers. 

The group initially planned to host two large scale protests, one at the Mantra Bell City Hotel in Preston where some refugees are being held and another at a detention center in Broadmeadows. But they were warned by police that if there are gatherings over 20, they will be fined and arrested.

“As a global wave of protest spreads against racism and police impunity, it is outrageous that Preston police are threatening refugee supporters with their own peculiar interpretation of health regulations,” RAC spokesman Chris Breen said in a statement on June 12.

The group announced the changed plans via media release and updated its Facebook event to say the protests have now been “decentralized” and will occur at 8 different locations. About 260 people have indicated their intention to attend. 

Victoria Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese Van Diemen said hosting smaller protests was “a more responsible way forward” and advised against going over the state’s current limit of 20 people outdoors.

A man in his 30s who attended the Melbourne Black Lives Matter protest last weekend was diagnosed with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as coronavirus, on June 11. Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton revealed that it was unlikely he contracted the virus at the rally, but that he was there while presymptomatic but potentially infectious.