NEWS
28/07/2020 1:46 PM AEST | Updated 28/07/2020 1:47 PM AEST

Sydney Black Lives Matter Protesters Arrested After COVID-19 Ban

Police detained organiser Paddy Gibson in a public park shortly before the scheduled start of the march and ordered other participants to leave the area.

Brook Mitchell via Getty Images
Black Lives Matter protest organiser Paddy Gibson is detained by Police in the Domain on July 28, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. 

NSW police on Tuesday detained at least one person and ordered about 50 others to disperse after they gathered in Sydney to go ahead with a Black Lives Matter protest despite an official ban because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The march had been called to highlight the deaths of Aboriginal people in custody, building on momentum from global rallies for racial justice and against police brutality.

Organisers had pressed ahead with the gathering despite the courts upholding the police ban, pledging to comply with social distancing restrictions.

However, police detained organiser Paddy Gibson in a public park shortly before the scheduled start of the march and ordered other participants to leave the area, according to a Reuters witness.

Brook Mitchell via Getty Images
A man is detained by Police in the Domain on July 28, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. 
Don Arnold via Getty Images
Police speak to rally organiser and nephew of David Dungay Jnr Paul Silva during a Black Lives Matter rally in The Domain on July 28, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. 

Reuters estimated there were about 50 people gathered on a rainy day in the city, well short of the 500 people that organisers had expected to attend before the ban.

Australia on Monday reported its highest ever single-day increase in cases after a flare-up of infections in Victoria.

NSW is also battling several virus clusters and authorities have warned people taking part in the rally that they risk arrest.

Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
A man is apprehended by New South Wales police during a Black Lives Matter rally in The Domain on July 28, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

Health Minister Greg Hunt made a last ditch plea for people not to attend, asking them to instead use social media platforms or arrange a silent vigil outside their homes.

“Don’t. You could take somebody’s life. It’s as simple as that,” Hunt told Sky News.

Australia has recorded about 15,000 cases of COVID-19 and 167 deaths, though authorities have warned people could die after the spike in cases.

Reporting by Renju Jose, Colin Packham, Jill Gralow and James Redmayne