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Australia police win halt to Black Lives Matter protest amid COVID-19

Sunday: An Australian court on Sunday, July 26 ordered a halt to a Black Lives Matter protest for this week, accepting police concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, but the organiser vowed to appeal.

Several thousand people had been expected at the protest in Sydney on Tuesday, July 28 against the deaths of Aboriginal people in custody, building on momentum from the global Black Lives Matter demonstrations for racial justice and against police brutality. The New South Wales state supreme court granted a police application to halt the rally. Police cited concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus to protesters, the public and police officers.

Australian health authorities have been fighting more than 100 outbreaks in the neighbouring state of Victoria, which saw a record 10 deaths overnight, raising fears that small clusters in New South Wales could quickly escalate. Outside the court, organiser Padraic Gibson said he would appeal the decision and the protest would go ahead.
"We are not the problem. We are not the ones responsible for the coronavirus. You have absolutely nothing to fear from our demonstration," he said. But New South Wales police "strongly urged" people to reconsider plans to attend the "unauthorised" protest, referring to public health restrictions on large gatherings.
"Police will not hesitate to take the appropriate action, if required," the police said in a statement.

Protesters are demanding justice for David Dungay Jr, 26, an indigenous man who died after being restrained by police at a Sydney jail in 2015, where footage showed him repeatedly telling officers he could not breathe. A coronial inquest in Nov 2019 found that none of the five guards who restrained Dungay should face disciplinary actions.

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