NSW Police were out in numbers in MacCabe Park and Crown Street Mall for the unauthorised Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday afternoon but exercised restraint.
No arrests were made when more than 150 people gathered in MacCabe Park after NSW Police won its bid to have the protest banned in the Supreme Court on Friday.
An hour prior to the scheduled start there were around 20 members of the Public Order and Riot Squad in the park and others in Crown Street Mall and surrounding streets.
By 12.30pm organisers Vinil Kumar and Aunty Trish Levett Gundungurra said they were told by police officers they would stop in excess of 20 people gathering.
"That is outrageous," Mr Kumar said.
"We still have a democratic right to public assembly.
"But the police are choosing to exercise their powers to break it up which is appalling because black deaths in custody is a health issue that has not gone away despite the pandemic.
"We are here prepared with safety measures and social distancing to make sure everything can go ahead.
"We had a team of 20 marshalls ready to make sure people are spaced apart. And have lots of masks and sanitiser. But they are still insisting there can't be any demonstrations for Black Lives Matters".
Aunty Trish said they chose MacCabe Park because it was open and people could spread out much more than was the case two weeks ago when 1500 gathered in Crown Street Mall.
Prior to the 1pm start people came and went to the part so there was no more than 20 people there at any one time.
But at 1pm numbers grew to around 150 as more Police arrived.
By that time a NSW Police Custody Unit bus had pulled up across the road from Illawarra Leagues Club and the first of six mounted police arrived along with more members of the Public Order and Riot Squad.
The rally started with Mr Kumar using a loud speaker to tell protestors what he had been told by police. That was followed by a welcome to country.
Protest chants of 'Black Lives Matter' and 'No Justice No Peace' then started along with messages such as 'we are not going to give up for human rights" and 'we are going to fight for injustice'.
After 30 minutes the protest appeared to be wrapping up with the chant 'we'll be back' and 'always was and always will be Aboriginal land'.
Mr Kumar told all present to give themselves a round of applause for saying enough is enough and not settling for anything except justice.
"While we are gathered here in this park in Wollongong we are part of a global struggle for justice which will not stop until we have justice," he said.
"This week we were dragged to the Supreme Court a part of proceedings that were brought against us by the NSW Police Force.
"At that Supreme Court hearing the police were granted an order to prohibit our demonstration today. So this demonstration is officially a prohibited.gathering.
"The police have approached us and issued us a directive that the gathering here today is in excess of 20 people which is the maximum allowed by the Public Health Order in NSW. They are here in numbers to enforce that decision"
Mr Kumar said protesters will continue to mobilise until justice is done about indigenous deaths in custody.
"It really soars my spirits to see you all here and I want to announce on the fifth of July there is going to be a national day of justice for Black Lives Matter and indigenous deaths in custody happening right across the country.
"We are encouraging people from the Illawarra region to please participate in the demonstrations that will be happening in Sydney".
Another speaker encouraged the protestors to march out of MacCabe Park and up through the streets.
They were blocked at Burelli Street before turning and marching down Keira Street for about half a block before police started to disperse the crowd back through MacCabe Park.
After the protest Aunty Trish said no one had been arrested and she was grateful for that but she needed to keep people moving on so no one was.
"The police have held back. They are doing their job and we are doing ours.
At 3pm Acting Assistant Commissioner Greg Moore said the police operation for an unauthorised protest in Wollongong had concluded.
He said the NSW Supreme Court prohibited the public assembly and march due to health and safety concerns associated with COVID-19.
And a high-visibility operation was launched in response to a planned unauthorised protest.
General duties officers from Wollongong Police District as well as Public Order and Riot Squad, Dog Squad, Mounted Unit, PolAir and other surrounding districts and units conducted the operation to ensure the safety of the community and the participants.
"Approximately 150 protesters chose to disregard the public healthy orders by attend today's rally, which is extremely disappointing," he said.
"A direction had been given to the organisers and the crowd that they were putting the health and wellbeing of themselves and others at risk by attending.
"No issues arose from today's protest, and the group dispersed shortly after being given a formal direction to move on".
Read more: Stay home from Sydney BLM rally: police
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