Organisers of a Black Lives Matter protest during the Covid-19 pandemic have argued that it was a “not a petulant outpouring of idiocy” and the charges should be dropped.
Meriki Onus and Crystal McKinnon appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday despite police telling them earlier this year that the charges would be dropped.
Police later said this was a “miscommunication” and the women were still charged with breaching the chief health officer’s directions over the protest held in June 2020.
However, prosecutor Mark Fisken told the court that police would instead be seeking to amend the charges.
Defence lawyer Lucien Richter told the court that the application to amend the charges was “an abuse of process” and his clients intended to fight it.
“The application is brought for a collateral or ulterior motive or purpose namely to defend the reputation in the media of Victoria Police and not to vindicate any proper legal right sought in the public interest,” he said.
He said the protests were not “a petulant protest about anti-vax sentiment”.
“This was a legitimate expression of a long running, simmering problem in Australia of black deaths in custody,” Mr Richter said.
“A long-running and existing emergency in the lives of Aboriginal Australians, not a petulant outpouring of idiocy,” he told the court.
Organisers asked people to assemble in groups of 19 and there were more than 50,000 masks and 50,000 bottles of hand sanitiser organised for the protest, the court was told.
The protest attracted more than 10,000 people and came after George Floyd, a black man, was killed at the hands of police in Minnesota.
At the time the protest was held, stay-at-home measures in the state banned public gatherings with groups of more than 19 people.
The hearing continues.