Thousands are expected at a Black Lives Matter rally in Brisbane today and police are concerned agitators could use the event to pursue violence.
Thousands are expected at a Black Lives Matter rally in Brisbane today and police are concerned agitators could use the event to pursue violence.

Police fear Black Lives Matter protest could erupt

QUEENSLAND Police hold "major concerns" that agitators could hijack today's Black Lives Matter rally in Brisbane for their own ends.

Thousands are expected to gather in Brisbane's King George Square despite COVID-19 restrictions limiting groups to 20 people in public spaces.

The demonstration, organised by Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, is the latest in a series of protests that have spanned the globe since the death of American man George Floyd in police custody.

A Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney. A similar event will be held in Brisbane today. Picture: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images
A Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney. A similar event will be held in Brisbane today. Picture: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd said police would prefer people stay home but there would be no mass arrest of protesters.

"We prefer that several thousand people not gather tomorrow … (but) if it's going to occur we're going to apply a lens that will mitigate the risk as best we can," he said.

"It just isn't practical … to suggest that we're going to go through and start issuing fine notices to thousands of people."

Mr Codd said police were prepared to crack down on flagrant breaches of COVID-19 rules or the law.

"One of my major concerns is that there will be people who may use the veil, the cover of this quite emotional and important issue in our community … to pursue violent, disruptive, or illegal behaviour," he said.

"We've got a range of processes in place to help mitigate that."

 

Authorities have urged protesters to stay home due to COVID-19 restrictions. Picture: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images
Authorities have urged protesters to stay home due to COVID-19 restrictions. Picture: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said anyone who attended protests scheduled for this weekend would put their own health, and the health of others, at risk.

"I say to them, don't go," Mr Morrison said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged the protesters to consider taking a stand at home via social media.

Ms Palaszczuk pointed to the cancelled Anzac Day commemorations, and said she agreed with Mr Morrison's call to avoid rallies amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"We are living in a different world at the moment and I would hope that people respect the health advice, however there will be people who will turn out," she said.

Outspoken border closure critic Pauline Hanson slammed the Government for allowing the rally to go ahead while keeping businesses and families under harsh restrictions.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington urged people to social distance.

Assistant Commissioner Codd said the police presence would be "scalable".

Originally published as Police fear Black Lives Matter protest could erupt


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