Police have defended the use of pepper spray during ugly scenes between officers and protesters following yesterday’s Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney.
- Aggressive scenes broke out at Central Station following the Black Lives Matter Rally
- Police said otherwise the event was “largely peaceful”
- Acting NSW Police Commissioner Mal Lanyon said pepper spray was used to curb any violence
Footage emerged last night of tension between police and rallygoers as the authorities were attempting to herd people through Central Station about 6:10pm.
Police used pepper spray on at least five people, who were all treated at the scene.
It has prompted allegations by some protesters that the police were too heavy handed.
A 21-year-old man from Mt Druitt was arrested and charged with offensive behaviour and resisting police.
Acting NSW Police Commissioner Mal Lanyon alleged there were a number of people acting “aggressively and inciting police” and the incident was under investigation.
“Police attempted to quell the situation and move those persons on. One of the males chose to act aggressively towards police at which time he was placed under arrest,” he said.
“Subsequent to that arrest and because of the ongoing violence of the persons that were there, OC [pepper] spray was deployed to actually curb that violence and the potential of it.
“I support the use of the capsicum spray and the way police responded in order to ensure there was not further violence.”
Police spraying protesters with pepper spray inside Central Station after a Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney.(AAP: James Gourley)
Acting Commissioner Lanyon said during patrols near Central Station, at Eddy Avenue and Pitt Street, one officer was struck in the face with a can of drink, while another was struck with a bottle.
A brick was also thrown at a police vehicle and in the process of moving protestors back, “a number of items” were thrown at officers, he said.
One officer suffered a cut to the face.
Police attempt to move protesters at Central Station on Saturday.(AAP: James Gourley)
That incident is also being investigated and charges will be laid once there is sufficient evidence, he said.
“Police aren’t punching bags and don’t deserve to have this happen,” he said.
“I expect our police to act with respect to the community and I certainly expect the community to act with respect back towards our police officers.”
He said the rally which drew 20,000 protesters was “largely peaceful”.
“The fact that there were a number of groups of individuals after the protest that chose to act unlawfully is disappointing to us.
“I believe there are groups that attend those types of protests with an interest to incite police and try to cause violence. Police acted professionally throughout the afternoon and again at Central Station they acted professionally and took the appropriate action.”
Police use pepper spray on Sydney protesters
Rally organiser Raul Bassi said he refused to let the incident at Central Station overshadow the success of the march.
“There’s nothing absolutely nothing that could make our day bad,” he said.
“Our day was one of the best days in the history of Aboriginal Australia.
Mr Bassi estimated at least 30,000 people attended and the crowd was overwhelmingly well behaved.
“The problem was with three people,” he said.
“What’s the percent of three people in 30,000? Nothing.”
Mr Bassi said he believed the police were just looking for a justification to criticise the march.
There were three other arrests relating to the protest a 15-year-old boy and a 23-year-old man for an alleged affray and a 51-year-old man for a breach of the peace.
The protest follows weeks of turmoil globally after African-American man George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis.
In Sydney last week, outrage was sparked when a police officer was caught on camera leg-sweeping an Indigenous teen.