'No 5G, no mandatory vaccines': Hundreds gather to protest
HUNDREDS of people gathered in Mullumbimby to protest a range of matters this afternoon.
Many protesters were there to oppose the installation of Telstra's 5G technology in the town
That upgrade began six weeks ago but the telco has yet to complete the work.
Mandatory vaccination was also opposed by attendees, and at least one placard called for Julian Assange to be freed.
Event spokesperson Sherrie Yeomans said the protest involved multiple groups, including Northern Rivers Safe Technology.
The group gathered outside the Byron Shire Council chambers before marching to the Telstra tower in Dalley St, then on to an event involving talks.
"It's now six and a half weeks they've been standing by the tower," she said.
In March, the council asked Telstra to hold off on the upgrade until more information about the new mobile technology could be provided.
Telstra began work on the tower in April and were met with community members who opposed the upgrade.
Ms Yeomans said people had been gathered at the tower since then.
The Informed Medical Opinions Party had a presence at the event and the Freedom of Choice Alliance was also involved.
Ms Yeomans said participants had been urged to observe social distancing to adhere to Covid-19 rules.
"We've stated... we will be practising physical distancing," she said.
"It's a peaceful gathering."
With hundreds gathered, the restriction of outdoor gatherings to 10 people couldn't be adhered to, nor was the group ultimately able to keep 1.5 metres between them.
But Tweed Byron Police District crime manager Detective Chief Inspector Brendon Cullen said aside from the gathering itself, police had seen no issues at the protest.
There was a significant police presence in the town and officers directed traffic as the march proceeded along the street.
"Our main purpose was to keep everyone safe, to keep the local community safe, to keep protesters safe," he said.
"We still have the Covid-19 issues and we've got to be mindful of the safety of everyone.
"I'm happy to report things went very smoothly.
"My only concern is Covid-19 and the safety of people around that."
Technically, the gathering was illegal under current Public Health Act rules.
"People are only allowed to gather in groups of 10 for authorised purposes and this is not such," he said.
"We've expressed our concerns to the organisers of the gathering and they've repeated it to the people a number of times and we expect them to abide by those restrictions.
"Really, our role is to educate, to inform and to provide guidance on Covid-19 and that's what we've done here today.
"We just want everyone to be safe."
Myocum resident Amie San said she attended the protest because she's "totally against 5G".
She was hopeful the authorities would provide more data on the technology to the council and community, as requested.
Telstra has repeatedly stated 5G, which uses non-ionising radiation, is not harmful to humans.
In a statement in January, Australia's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy said 5G technology is safe.
"There is no evidence telecommunication technologies, such as 5G, cause adverse health impacts," he said.
"This position is supported by health authorities in Australia - such as the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) - and around the world, such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
"Mobile phone networks and other wireless telecommunications emit low-powered radio waves also known as radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME). This is different to ionising radiation associated with nuclear energy or use in medicine."
HUNDREDS of protesters have gathered in Mullumbimby this afternoon in an effort to prevent a 5G tower from going ahead.
The action was started by Northern Rivers for Safe Technology.
Prior to the gathering, organisers promised that attendees would maintain physical distancing of 1.5m and that it would be "constantly monitored".
Spokesperson Sherrie Yeomans said the Northern Rivers for Safe Technology was a group of more than 3000 local community members, created a year ago.
This afternoon's group could be heard chanting "no 5G" and then "no mandatory vaccines".