Guardian: Organisers of Sydney pro-Palestinian rally considering legal action

Catie McLeodThe organisers of a demonstration planned for Sydney on Sunday are considering launching a court bid to stop police from using extraordinary stop-and-search and identification powers.

The group is considering the challenge after the New South Wales police acting commissioner, David Hudson, said he believed the threshold for using the powers introduced after the 2005 Cronulla riots had been met and he would seek to have them enabled before Sunday’s rally.

The rally organisers’ legal adviser, Stephen Blanks from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, said there “didn’t seem to be any legal justification” for Hudson’s comments and that police could only lawfully use the powers if there was a “threat of large scale public disorder”.

He said:

There is no threat of public disorder based on anything that the organisers of this event have said.

It would be in the public interest for the police to withdraw those threats and consider doing what they are supposed to do which is facilitate people’s right to free speech by having peaceful assemblies, which is what is proposed here.

The group would have to commence their legal challenge this afternoon or on Saturday before a duty judge.

The decision to enact the powers - which would allow police to search protesters without reason and arrest and charge people who refuse to identify themselves - rests with an assistant commissioner or higher-ranked officer.

More here.