From the Newsroom

Police prioritise public safety following online promotion to Walk for Freedom

Emma Pritchard|

It was promoted via social media as a peaceful protest for freedom of choice to end lockdowns, but the Coffs/Clarence Police District issued their own statement in response, telling people not to attend.

The Grafton Walk for Freedom invited members of the community to bring signs and meet at Market Square at 12pm on August 21, before walking across the old and new Grafton Bridge.
The event, organised by an unknown source, was promoted as a peaceful walk-in, adherence to current exercise and social distancing rules. It was widely circulated on Facebook last week and attracted several comments by concerned residents. Many of them expressed concern at the prospect of a potentially large social gathering in breach of current Public Health Orders. In a statement released on their Facebook page, the Coffs/Clarence Police District revealed they were aware of the unauthorised protest activities.

“Public safety is our first priority, and you will be fined or arrested if you turn up #StayAtHome,” the message read.

When the clock struck 12pm on August 21, a small group of people arrived intermittently at Market Square. None of them brought signs. When asked if they were aware of or intended to participate in the Grafton Walk for Freedom, many declined to comment, stating they were there for exercise only. After a short interval, a small group of people left and walked down Pound Street. While two police vehicles were observed driving past Market Square, police did not attend the scene. Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott, is urging communities across NSW to adhere to the rules enforced byOperation Stay-At-Home.