Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Supreme Court Hammers Police For Trying To Block Anti-Bush Protest In Sydney

The New South Wales Police copped an earful from a Supreme Court judge this morning over its attempts to stop a protest march through the streets of Sydney this Saturday, and adjourned further hearings until Wednesday night.

NSW Police were seeing a court order to keep protesters from gathering and marching through public areas outside of the fenced in security zone, but were criticized for not having requested such a court order last week.

The Stop Bush Coalition announced the September 8 march date months ago, and police were criticised in the court for not having made their application sooner.

From ABC News :

A lawyer for Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says the 20,000 people expected to assemble through APEC's security zone will pose a risk.

The application for the court order caught the protest group off guard and its three lawyers want more time to prepare their case.

The court heard police had the chance to take the matter to court last week.

Police have been in discussion with the Stop Bush Coalition for weeks over their proposed protest route, which they object to because it includes the declared APEC zone of Martin Place.

In declared zones, officers have more powers to search people and move them on.

Earlier today, coalition spokesman Alex Bainbridge said Martin Place was not a restricted area and protesters should be allowed to be in the same space as the rest of the public.

"We are planning to enter the declared area, which is open to the public," he said.

"It's nowhere near the restricted area or any of the APEC venues. What we believe is that nowhere that is open to the public should have protests banned or free speech restricted."

The court clearly understands NSW Police were trying to railroad and pressure them into granting the order to effectively ban the march.

No dice. It is not illegal for crowds to gather and voice their dissent in a public area of Sydney.

Well, not yet anyway.

NSW Police will have to come up with something better, like actual provable threats posed by protesters, for the court to grant the order to legally stop the Saturday march.