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Minister's dilemma as thousands defy virus rules to support protest march

Politics

More than 8000 people have said they’ll attend a Black Lives Matter protest in Brisbane despite coronavirus restrictions on large public gatherings.

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Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles is seeking advice about the legality of the protest and a march through the city on Saturday.

Strict limits on gatherings remain in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, with a public health directive stating outdoor events must not involve more than 20 people.

Miles said he understands some will want to march in support of American man George Floyd, whose death during an arrest has sparked global protests.

But he said protesters must also understand their legal obligations.

“That’s something I’ll need to get some advice on today,” Miles told ABC radio on Friday.

“And then we’ll make that advice public so people choosing to attend can know the regulations that apply to them.”

Miles acknowledged the painful scenes coming out of the United States, where Floyd, who was black, died after a white officer knelt on his neck.

“It’s really distressing to see what’s going on there. I understand there will be Brisbane folk who feel motivated to want to show solidarity.”

Police are due to address the media at 1:30pm.

Miles has said police are generally responsible for managing protest permits.

The Black Lives Matter – Stop Black Deaths In Custody protest is due to begin at King George Square at 1pm.

Protesters will then march through the city to Musgrave Park to remember Floyd and alleged police brutality and oppression here in Australia.

“There have been more than 400 First Nations people murdered in custody since the Royal Commission in Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its final report in 1997,” the organisers say on Facebook.

“We see the government and police investigating police and then the police are never held accountable for their crimes.”

The Facebook event page tells people to “wear a face mask and other PPE, use hand sanitiser, stay home if you are sick or at a high risk status for infection”.

It says marshals will be present to remind people to exercise social distancing.

Legal observers will also be there to watch any interactions with the police. Attendees are being encouraged to film such encounters.

“Our strength and security is in numbers, please stick with large groups while protesting for everyone’s safety.”

-AAP

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