NSW Police thwart counter-protesters at reclaim Oxford Street march

Saturday night’s “Whose Street? Our Street – Oxford St Party” protest march.

NSW Police officers swiftly dealt with two groups who tried to interfere with Saturday night’s “Whose Street? Our Street – Oxford St Party” protest march despite some of the event’s anti-policing messaging.

Around a hundred people gathered for the march at 9pm in Hyde Park before occupying two lanes of Oxford Street near the Burdekin Hotel to listen to speeches when a small group of counter-protesters emerged from behind the hotel from little Liverpool Street and unfurled a banner reading “Christ or Chaos” outside the BSW bottle shop before being swiftly moved on by officers from the NSW Police.

The banner included a logo with the initials “AF” inside a circle but QNews has been unable to identify what group these individuals belong to.

The group had a megaphone with them but were unable to use it before being ordered away by police.

During this point in the march, protesters heard from speakers about the need for NSW to finally pass comprehensive anti-discrimination laws without religious exemptions, and the particular need for those laws to include employment discrimination protections for sex workers seeking work outside of the sex industry.

They were then treated to a performance by Cassandra the Queen before marching further up the street.

An hour later the protest had moved to the corner of Oxford Street and Crown Street where protesters remained for about half an hour while police directed buses around the protest so that they could continue up the road.

At this point in the protest another group tried to disrupt the event.

A small group of bikers who had covered their faces with black scarves or bandanas tried to approach the protest after travelling down the hill from Taylor Square.

A car full of men also appeared to be travelling with the motorbikes.

However both this car and the bikers were diverted away from the protest down Crown Street by police as soon as they became aware that they were trying to reach the protesters.

Police also moved on a pedestrian who shouted for the police to arrest the marchers, who he labelled “mentally ill.”

This is not the first time a group of bikers have tried to intimidate LGBTIQA+ protesters in Sydney.

This journalist witnessed two bikers shadowing protesters through the Sydney CBD on June 25 this year during the Trans Rights are Human Rights rally that was organised by the Rainbow Rights Coalition and Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR).

Those bikers, clad all in black with dark visors obscuring their faces, tried to approach that protest when it was stopped behind the Queen Victoria Building and began aggressively revving their engines when they were unable to pass a line of police vehicles at the rear of the protest.

They then roared down Market Street onto York Street towards Town Hall where the protesters were headed for the end of the event, but Druitt Street was blocked off by police there as well.

It was not immediately clear whether Saturday’s event would have a police escort or police managing traffic as organisers only submitted a notification of intention to hold a public assembly to the police on August 25 when a minimum of seven days is needed for the NSW Police Commissioner to approve such a notice.

However NSW Police approved the notice on Friday.

At the end of the march, protesters danced in Taylor Square to music that was played on portable speakers and then dispersed into the night.

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