Chris Minns has said that he is “concerned” about upcoming pro-Palestine protests amid a spate of alleged anti-Semitic acts recorded across Sydney.
The NSW Premier said that while there is still a right to protest in NSW, “everyone has a right to be free from racial vilification, incitement to violence, actual violence or racism on the streets”.
The unauthorised protest planned for Sunday is still set to go ahead despite attempts to shut it down by NSW Police following anti-Semitic chants at a similar protest on Monday night.
“Obviously, I‘m concerned about the assembly on Sunday,” Mr Minns told the media on Friday.
“I’m hoping it’s done peacefully and I’m hoping that the organisers and the participants at that assembly prove me wrong and we can get through the weekend in a peaceful way.”
Mr Minns had a grim warning for Sydneysiders if the scenes on Monday were repeated on the weekend.
“That would be ruinous for Sydney‘s sense of cohesion, our multicultural, multi-faith community, we couldn’t have those scenes again and police have got every right to protect and ensure that those scenes aren’t repeated over the weekend,” he said.
Police plan to use “extraordinary powers” to search protesters without reason and demand they identify themselves on request.
“We intend to search people that we believe are likely to protest or have shown an interest in protesting, based on the fact that weapons and flares, the experiences of Monday night,” acting commissioner David Hudson said.
“We will also be demanding they provide us with their identity. So that they cannot disguise themselves in the crowd … without fear of retribution.”
Throughout the week, Mr Minns fiercely condemned the actions of pro-Palestinian protesters involved Monday’s rally.
“To have some people celebrate atrocious indiscriminate killing and kidnapping in Israel is appalling,” he said.
“This is the opposite of the dynamic multicultural community we want in NSW and Australia.”
Dozens of Islamic community groups have called on the government to “end the double standards” and acknowledge the loss of Palestinian lives in the conflict.
A joint letter from 41 groups rejected the “one-sided portrayal of the Palestinian issue in Australia” and condemned all “calls and incitement to violence and hatred of any people”, including anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim or Islamophobic attitudes.
“Enough is enough. The voice of Australian Muslims and proponents of justice for all people will no longer be silenced on the matter of Palestine,“ the letter said.
Mr Minns defended his and police attempts to shut down Sunday‘s protests, saying that NSW was facing calls for violence not seen at other pro-Palestine protests.
“Other states didn‘t see what we saw on Monday night in Sydney and the decision that the NSW Police backed by the NSW government has not been done in isolation… it’s been done on the back of what was a protest that went wrong,” he said.
“And I don‘t think anyone not even the organizers of the protest can claim that it was a success. It was not peaceful.”
He vowed that there would be “no tolerance for racial vilification on Sydney streets”.
Mr Minns called the snap press conference after three men were arrested for allegedly performing a Nazi salute outside Sydney’s Jewish Museum.
Officers were called to Darlinghurst Road in Darlinghurst shortly before midday on Friday where they arrested three men.
NSW Police have not yet revealed the details about the incident but police cars have lined the streets outside the museum.
“While there is no ongoing risk to the public Darlinghurst Road remains closed the public to ongoing inquiries,” a NSW Police spokesperson said.
It’s understood there were no threats of violence involved in the incident.