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Police plea for protestors to abandon Story Bridge blockage

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Police are urging protesters to abandon a planned sit-in on Brisbane’s Story Bridge, warning anyone caught blocking traffic will be arrested.

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The Refugee Action Collective is planning a march on Saturday in the city centre to call for the release of asylum seekers being held in detention at a hotel in Kangaroo Point.

About 120 men remain in the central Brisbane hotel after being flown from Manus Island and Nauru to Australia for medical treatment.

Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said he valued the right of people to protest lawfully but a pandemic was not the time for such a large gathering.

“From a purely public health perspective this is not supported,” he said on Thursday.

About a thousand people have flagged their intention on Facebook to attend the sit-in, with a further 2000 people interested.

Gollschewski said police had attempted to contact protest organisers for a discussion.

However, unlike with the organisers of Brisbane’s “largely peaceful” Black Lives Matter protests in June, they had been unable to build a good rapport, he said.

Gollschewski said blocking road access on the bridge was unlawful and anyone who tried to hold up traffic would be arrested.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk backed police considering “all options that are possible to ensure that this mass gathering does not happen”.

“The police will not hesitate to take action, if it is necessary, to stop this protest or to remove protesters if it goes ahead,” Palaszczuk said after visiting police manning the Queensland-NSW border.

-AAP

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