Commissioner approves exemption for June long weekend protest, South Australia

It anticipated this Saturday, at approximately 12.00 pm, a protest is being planned to be undertaken at Victoria Square, Adelaide aimed at supporting Justice for United States deceased man George Floyd.

Commissioner of Police Grant Stevens, in his role as the State Coordinator for the COVID-19 response in South Australia, has the authority to issue a blanket exemption for those who wish to peacefully protest on Saturday.

This is a unique situation requiring the Commissioner to balance public health considerations with people’s ability to peacefully protest.

Taking all of the health advice into consideration; and the civil liberties of people who wish to peacefully protest, the State Coordinator has issued such an exemption for this one off unique situation.

The exemption in broad terms permits a gathering of more than 80 people in a public place for this one off occasion. However, it needs to be strongly emphasised this does not detract from people to still maintain safe physical distancing and to have an overt respect for any people who might be near to them with respect to preventing any spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The Commissioner’s decision enables a peaceful protest without the fear of breaching the Emergency Management Act direction, but this requires people to be mindful of their own health and that of others. Anyone who is unwell shouldn’t attend the protest, and those who do attend need to maintain appropriate physical distance.

South Australia Police has been attempting to develop dialogue with the protesters but this has not yet been formerly established. We welcome organisers to establish contact with SAPOL members so that we can provide advice and work together on this day.

As with any major protest activity there will be a highly visible police presence to ensure that the safety and wellbeing of protesters; and any other person who might come into contact with those lawfully protesting at Victoria Square, is of the highest priority.

This is an unusual step but one which felt warranted given the circumstances.

SAPOL members will monitor the behaviour of all of those in attendance or in the vicinity and will not tolerate any violent or unlawful behaviour. Such behaviour will be treated with swift response and action.

We aim to ensure the protest is peaceful and without undue incident.

The full details of the exemption can be obtained via sa.gov.au and the South Australia Police website.

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