Police wish to speak to man shown throwing flare as they consider application for upcoming march in support of Palestine
Footage of a man shouting and throwing a flare on the steps of the Sydney Opera House last week has been released by the New South Wales police as they consider allowing another pro-Palestinian march for later in the week.
Protest organisers have applied for a permit to hold a march on Saturday 21 October after holding a “largely peaceful” static event with about 6,000 people in Hyde Park on Sunday.
Ahead of the rally on Sunday, police warned they were considering using “extraordinary powers” to search attenders in response to last Monday night’s march on the Opera House that saw about 1,000 people gather, including a number who let off flares.
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Video of last Monday’s protest appeared to show some people in the crowd chanting antisemitic slogans, including “fuck the Jews” and “fuck Israel”. Organisers claimed those people were in the minority and were not part of the original gathering.
Police set up a taskforce to investigate the incident and released a snippet of footage on Monday afternoon of a man they wish to speak with as part of their investigation.
The video showed the man throwing a flare in the direction of the Opera House.
“The man is described as being of medium to heavy build, with short dark hair and beard, and, at the time, he was wearing spectacles,” a police spokesperson said.
“The man is depicted in the vision wearing a black hooded jacket, grey pants, black shoes, and a black and white scarf.”
The premier, Chris Minns, and senior police officers have repeatedly stated they wanted to see charges laid against anyone caught inciting violence or engaging in hate speech.
Minns on Monday said it would be up to police to approve or deny the rally organisers’ application to hold another march on Saturday, pointing to the right to protest and the right to “be free from vilification or racism”.
“I’m not going to allow us a situation where we have seen scenes of what was undeniably racist language, incitement to violence in NSW,” he said.
“That’s no way to run a multicultural community. We can’t let it happen.”
He said he had been “happy that there weren’t overt signs of racism” at the rally in Hyde Park on Sunday.
He reaffirmed his support of the NSW Jewish community and made a distinction between the Hamas group and Palestinian civilians ahead of Israel’s expected ground invasion of Gaza.
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“Everyone is concerned about innocent Palestinian civilians, as they are concerned about innocent Israeli civilians,” he said.
“I’m not going to shed a tear about the end of Hamas.”
Human rights and legal experts last week condemned the NSW government’s “escalating”, “unnuanced” and “disproportionate” rhetoric and response to pro-Palestinian protesters.
NSW Council of Civil Liberties president, Josh Pallas, said the police threat to use extraordinary powers had been outrageous.
“So-called police intelligence turned out to be completely unfounded. NSW Police and the police minister [Yasmin Catley] must explain how they got it so wrong,” he said.
“Protesters refused to cower in response to the government and police’s scare tactics over the past week and asserted their right to protest and did so peacefully,” he said.
Police released the footage the day after the rally organisers staged the gathering in Hyde Park.

Palestinian Action Group Sydney co-organiser Josh Lee denounced antisemitism as he urged the crowd not to give the police and government “any extra ammunition” to prevent future marches.

He said the rally organisers had submitted an application to police to stage a march through the CBD next Saturday, which NSW police assistant commissioner Tony Cooke said would be considered.

Speaking to the media after Sunday’s rally, Cooke said the event had been “largely peaceful” and the hundreds of police officers deployed did not make any arrests.