News //

Supreme Court refuses to authorise Black Lives Matter vigil

The decision comes after a challenge brought by the NSW Police.

Photograph: Justice Desmond Fagan

The Supreme Court has denied an application to authorise a Black Lives Matter vigil at Town Hall tomorrow. The decision is the result of a challenge by the NSW Police, announced this morning, to the vigil.

The decision, delivered by Justice Desmond Fagan, held that the “significant risk” of COVID-19 transmission outweighed the rights of protestors to assemble. The organisers’ submission that not approving the assembly would mean protestors would rally on packed footpaths, leading to an increased risk of transmission, was rejected. 

Justice Fagan also rejected that the organisers’ enforcement of social distancing measures, and provision of hand sanitiser and masks would reduce the risk of transmission. 

Earlier in the day, a small number of people attended a press conference outside of the Supreme Court this afternoon in order to show support for Indigenous peoples speaking to the media.

A representative from the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA), a group co-organising the vigil, told media that “We have traditional custodianship over this land and we want to work with you, so we expect that in return. 

“We don’t need to deal with this justice system. This justice is not our law. Our laws are the lores of this land and the lore of our ancestors.”

Dunghutti woman Leetona Dungay, mother of David Dungay Jr. who died at Long Bay Prison following a pressure hold by correctional officers encouraged people to show up regardless of the outcome.

“Professional service officers put my son on the ground, and the doctors and nurses put my son under the ground. I’m going to walk on it for my march, just like George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.”

“We’re not going to stop, we’re going to march. We don’t care what any acts of law tells us what to do. Because those acts of laws are killing us.”

Activist and Bundjalung woman Vanessa Turnbull Roberts, who is expected to speak at tomorrow’s rally, said “we are encouraging our Elders, our community, our non-Indigenous brothers and sisters who are potentially at risk of COVID. Stay home. Your health comes first.”

“But if you have the means, if you have the choice, if you can move your body, then use your liberty and stand up on the right side of justice.”

The University of Sydney’s Autonomous Collective Against Racism, a co-organiser of the rally, told Honi that “we believe it is of utmost importance for non-Indigenous folks to show up and stand in solidarity with First Nations people in their fight to end Blak deaths in custody.”

ACAR, alongside ISJA and the Anticolonial Asian Alliance (AAA) have reiterated their commitment to safety, encouraging attendees to wear masks, use hand sanitiser, and not attend if they feel ill, or have been in recent contact with anyone ill.

The vigil is still scheduled to go ahead, at Town Hall, from 3pm tomorrow. Protests in the US, sparked by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, have occurred for the last week.

Filed under: