At the scheduled pro-Palestinian march on Sunday, the police in New South Wales intend to employ “extraordinary powers” to search demonstrators without a reason, arrest and charge those who refuse to identify themselves, and search protestors without a reason.
A pro-Palestine event that was organized on Monday “descended into racism” and “acts of violence” on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, and Premier of NSW, Chris Minns, has backed the use of the powers by the police by saying that they were legitimate given the circumstances.
It is up to an assistant commissioner or a higher-ranked officer to decide whether or not to put these powers into effect. On Friday, the rally’s organizers announced that they were considering taking legal action in order to prevent the move.
David Hudson, the acting commissioner of the New South Wales Police, stated that he considered the prerequisite for utilizing the powers that were introduced following the riots in Cronulla in 2005 had been reached, and he would seek to have them enabled before the gathering in Hyde Park, which was scheduled to take place in Sydney.
“These powers are extraordinary – these powers are seldom used,” Hudson said on Friday. “These powers are exceptionally rare.” “By tomorrow, I anticipate having more clarity regarding the availability of these powers to us.”
Hudson encouraged people not to attend the scheduled demonstration and warned against a repeat of the march that took place on Monday night, during which some participants screamed antisemitic slurs and fired off flares on the steps of the Opera House.
“Just because they’re available does not mean that they have to be used, and we will not use the full extent of the powers that can lock the city down,” he added. “Just because they’re available does not necessarily mean that they have to be used.”
“We intend to search people that we believe are likely to protest or have shown an interest in protesting, based on the fact that weapons and flares, the experiences of Monday night. “We intend to search people that we believe are likely to demonstrate or have shown an interest in protesting. In addition to this, we are going to insist that they disclose their identities to us. In order to prevent them from disguising themselves among the crowd… without the fear of being punished.”
Hudson stated that the demonstration that was scheduled to take place on Sunday was “unauthorized,” but that it would not be against the law to participate.
“It’s not illegal for 100 or 1,000 people or whoever shows up on Sunday to meet in Hyde Park,” he added. “Whoever shows up, though, is breaking the law.” “The behavior that they engage in as a result of that is what worries us,” was the phrase that was used.
The Premier of New South Wales held an impromptu news conference on Friday afternoon to address the media. He stated that there is a right to protest in the state of New South Wales; but, he is concerned that the same group that organized Monday’s march will be organizing the event on Sunday.
“No one can claim that that ended well,” Minns added. “No one can claim that.”
“It is imperative that we take the teachings from Monday night to heart. On the weekend, the police will, of course, act in a sensible and proportional manner.
Experts in human rights and the law have spoken out against what they call the “escalating” and “disproportionate” attitude and response of the New South Wales government to pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
Amal Naser, one of the demonstration’s co-organizers, referred to the proposed police powers as a “absolutely draconian” overreach and a “huge violation of democracy” in her remarks at the rally.
“What we have seen in the past week in NSW is a draconian attack on our right to demonstrate in solidarity with the people of Palestine,” Naser said on Friday. The Palestinian people are currently experiencing a genocide in Gaza. “What we have seen in the past week in NSW is an attack on our right to demonstrate in solidarity with the people of Palestine.”
People were encouraged to attend what Naser referred to as a “peaceful gathering” in Hyde Park.
The statement that “there are inherent risks at any protest action,” but “we’re going to do everything that we can to keep our community safe,” was what she had to say.
Her co-organizer, Fahad Ali, stated that the organizers will make sure the event on Sunday was not affected by what took place during the demonstration on Monday.
He stated, “I think we can guarantee that there won’t be a repeat of this,” and I believe he was sincere in his statement. “And the way that we have ensured this is by providing very explicit comments about what it is that we anticipate and what it is that we are capable of doing. And we have been very clear in our criticism of racism.
In the event that the organizing group decides to challenge the police powers before the Supreme Court, Stephen Blanks, an attorney with the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, will serve as the legal advisor to the organization.
According to Blanks, who spoke to Guardian Australia, the police could only properly exercise the powers if there was a “threat of large scale public disorder.” He added that the event organizers had not intimated that there would be any public disorder.
Before the application for the march through the city was turned down by the police since it was submitted with less than a week’s notice, the event that will take place on Sunday was supposed to be a march through the city.
In the midst of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza and in reaction to the disorderly protest that took place on Monday, the police on Wednesday initiated an operation called “Operation Shield” to supervise their response to the situation in New South Wales (NSW).
During the demonstration that took place on Monday evening, the assistant commissioner in charge of the operation, Mal Lanyon, stated that police were attempting to identify those who may have broken the law.
On Friday, he made the statement that “We will put those people before the court.” “This serves as a warning to anyone who might attend the demonstration on Sunday and commit an offense; we will take action in response to your actions,”
Yasmin Catley, who is the minister of police, issued a warning late on Thursday night stating that the gathering was not authorized and “strongly encouraged” people not to attend.
“If individuals plan on attending and they intend to cause fear or harm to others or commit criminal offenses, they run the risk of being arrested.” The superiors in charge of law enforcement on the ground will be taking this matter very seriously.