NSW Police is seeking legal advice on the use of “extraordinary powers” that would allow officers to search attendees of a pro-Palestine protest this weekend.
The planned protest will take place in Sydney’s Hyde Park today, with at least 400 people expected to attend.
The rally’s organisers are the same group that staged a protest at the Sydney Opera House on Monday, where a small number of protesters were heard chanting antisemitic slurs.
According to police, they’re pursuing options to ensure the safety of protesters and the general public with increased police powers.
These powers were introduced after the 2005 Cronulla riots.
Police will have the option to shut down the Sydney CBD if the protest turns violent, but said they don’t intend to use that power.
NSW Police said officers may use additional powers to demand protesters show identification. They believe this could be helpful in holding any protesters who may commit unlawful activity to account.
The powers could also be used to allow police to conduct searches without needing a specific reason.
Speaking to TDA this morning, NSW Police stated no authority to use the powers had been granted, and no time frame could be provided.
The Sydney Palestine Action Group (PAG) is an established activist organisation that regularly protests in the CBD.
PAG organised the Opera House protest after war in Israel and Gaza broke out over the weekend.
On Tuesday, the group condemned antisemitic chanting at the rally. It said the behaviour lasted “less than one minute” from a small minority of protesters. Those protesters were at the Opera House for an unrelated event.
PAG said any antisemitic views won’t be welcomed at the protest. They said that rally organisers “condemn and oppose all forms of racism”.
NSW Government response
NSW Premier Chris Minns said police would respond “reasonably and proportionately” to the protest. He added that racial vilification and violence would not be tolerated, “because there is no place for that in our multicultural society”.
“My hope is it [the protest] is peaceful and pray we are proven wrong and it is a peaceful demonstration that passes without incident.”