Cops warn protest is 'irresponsible and unauthorised'
POLICE have slammed organisers of a so-called "freedom walk" in Byron on Saturday for being irresponsible in the current pandemic environment.
The organisers, who are rumoured to be part of an anti-vaccination group, also claimed the COVID-19 disease was not deadly and were protesting about mandatory vaccinations and border closures.
The event was part of a nationwide protest, the attendees of which the Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius labelled "utterly selfish" and members of the "tinfoil hat-wearing brigade".
"It's just crazy, it's just bats**t crazy nonsense," he said.
However, on Friday morning the NSW Police Force used more diplomatic language and confirmed they had not received the appropriate request to hold the event
"NSW Police have not received a Form 1 for a protest at Byron Bay on Saturday September 5 2020," a spokeswoman said.
"As such, the protest is currently unauthorised.
"But it appears the anonymous group behind the event, which they have organised to start at 11am Rails Park Byron Bay, said they do not need to go through the administrative hoops in place which are there to keep the community safe."
On social media the group claimed "enough is enough."
"We say, no to lockdowns, mandatory vaccines, border closures, censorship and tyranny and dictatorship."
However, police said they are concerned people will be breaking the Public Health Orders currently in place in NSW.
"At the current time, if the NSW Police Force receives an application for authorisation of a protest of more than 20 people, authorisation will not be given," the spokeswoman said.
"There are currently strict restrictions under the Public Health Act imposed on activities in which groups of people gather, all events are required to adhere to those restrictions, regardless of the intended activity.
"The NSW Police Force recognises and supports the rights of individuals and groups to exercise their rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, however, the first priority for NSW Police is always the safety of the wider community."
Police will be present to ensure social distancing and Public Health Orders are being adhered to and anyone found to be in breach of this may face significant penalties and legal process.