Australia Court Prohibits Planned Black Lives Matter Protest

The Supreme Court in Australia’s New South Wales state ruled against a plan to hold a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Sydney this week, citing concerns over the potential spread of the coronavirus.

The Black Lives Matter march was planned for July 28 in central Sydney, with earlier estimates suggesting thousands could attend to protest against indigenous deaths in custody. Organizers had asked that the demonstration be allowed to go ahead to capitalize on the momentum of the movement in the U.S. and to “keep the pressure” on relevant authorities in Australia.

While “there is a risk of momentum being lost in this campaign if public demonstrations in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, in the Australian context, do not continue to be held,” the threat of an escalation in the Covid-19 outbreak is higher, according to the judgment.

“The balancing of the competing concerns of the right to free speech and to demonstrate, as against the safety of the community at large, at this particular phase of the pandemic, necessitates the granting of the order prohibiting the holding of the public assembly,” it said.

A similar protest held in Victoria in June attracted criticism for possibly worsening the state’s coronavirus outbreak. Victoria is the worst affected region in Australia, recording 459 new infections overnight. New South Wales announced 14 new cases on Sunday.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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