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March 27, 2023

One hundred and fifty-three arrested in protests across NSW

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Police say they arrested more than 150 people and issued almost 600 Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) following unauthorised protest activity across NSW yesterday.

Thousands across the state protested against what they say is the loss of freedom and rights, brought about by Australia’s COVID laws.

Acting on information and intelligence, the NSW Police Force deployed more than 900 officers to conduct high-visibility patrols of various sites expected to be targeted by unauthorised protests, including NSW Parliament House and local council chambers including the Byron Shire chambers at Mullumbimby and the Lismore City chambers at Goonellabah.

General Duties officers from across NSW were supported by the Public Order and Riot Squad, Operations Support Group, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, Police Transport Command, the Dog and Mounted Unit, and other specialist units.

Police responded to 79 unauthorised protests, during which three officers received minor injuries following interactions with protestors at Lismore, Murwillumbah and Raymond Terrace.

Protests at Lismore and Goonellabah

‘The guy that was arrested was very peaceful in whatever conversation was happening between him and police.’ Janelle Saffin MP’s office in Lismore yesterday. Photo supplied.

A protester at Janelle Saffin MP’s office said the protest there was non-violent. ‘The guy that was arrested was very peaceful in whatever conversation was happening between him and police. When he was arrested and walked away from the group he was peaceful and he was later released from handcuffs once we, the crowd, eventually moved on.’

Another protester in Lismore said she also saw the man ‘being dragged away in handcuffs’. ‘Later he was “unarrested” in his own words. I got an infringement for not moving away. No one else in the first group I was part of was being arrested.

‘The first police lady introduced herself and said that she had no problems with us being here as long as we have masks and socially distance. Then they started moving people on and many left. That’s when the bully cop came over and issued an infringement. I recorded the whole conversation and I’m not going to pay anyway once it arrives in the mail.

‘Another cop was listening to people no but stating we “have it all wrong”.’

One man was arrested at the Lismore City Council chambers at Goonellabah where there were around 70 protesters.  

Police say a 42-year-old man was issued multiple move-on directions by police and failed to comply.

During his arrest, the man allegedly resisted, pushing a male senior officer before attempting to run from the area.

A video shows four police staff holding the man on the ground while he was handcuffed and protesters gathered around yelling ‘let him go!’

He was taken to Lismore Police Station and charged with resist officer in execution of duty, refuse/fail to comply with direction under Part 14 and three counts of not comply with noticed direction re s 7/8/9 – COVID-19. 

The East Lismore man was granted conditional bail to appear at Lismore Local Court on Monday 6 September 2021.

A further three women were also charged over alleged breaches of the Public Health Order and also granted bail to appear at Lismore Local Court on Monday 6 September 2021.

One hundred and fifty-three arrests statewide

In total, 153 people were arrested, many of whom were released after officers were able to establish their identity to issue a PIN.

Others were charged with a variety of offences including various breaches of the public health order, assault police, resist arrest, refusing to comply with police direction, and failing to move on.

A total of 573 PINS were issued, including not wear fitted masked covering in prescribed outdoor gathering ($500), not comply with noticed direction re s7/8/9 – COVID-19 ($1,000), and unlawfully participate in outdoor public gathering – stay at home order ($3,000).

In the Northern Region, the Tweed Heads PD saif there were three arrests and  25 PINs issued between Tweed Shire Council-Murwillumbah, Byron Bay Shire Council-Mullumbimby, MP Office-Tweed Heads and the Sleepy Hollow Vehicle Rest Area.

The Richmond PD said there were 11 arrested and 24 PINs issued between Lismore Council, Kyogle Council, Ballina Council and the MP Office-Ballina.

Coffs-Clarence PD said there were 19 arrested and 19 PINs issued in between Coffs Harbour City Council, Clarence Valley Council-Grafton, Bellingen Shire Council and Clarence Valley Council-MacLean.

Inquiries into the incidents are continuing and further PINs are expected to be issued, including for failing to comply with self-isolation direction ($5000).

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