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APEC protesters decide on new route

The Australian | September 6, 2007

APEC protesters beaten by a court order preventing their march along certain Sydney streets have decided on a new route for their rally.

Police expect to face unprecedented levels of violence and have warned a full-scale riot is "probable" when up to 20,000 APEC protesters march in central Sydney on Saturday.

Police won a NSW Supreme Court intervention banning the march from travelling along Martin Place, past the US Consulate, the Cenotaph and major banks.

Rally organisers from the Stop Bush Coalition held an emergency strategy meeting to rethink their options and came up with a new route they hope will be acceptable to police.

If it's not, and the march goes ahead, the protesters will not lawfully be allowed to march on the streets, and they will be arrested and charged for obstructing traffic, police have said.

"To ensure certainty for the many people who wish to participate in our peaceful protest and march we have decided on the following new route," a Stop Bush Coalition statement said.

"We will continue to gather at Town Hall from 10am for a peaceful protest on Saturday September 8.

"We will now march down George Street, along Park Street and into Hyde Park North. The rally will conclude with music and bands.

"The NSW Police have said in court today and the Supreme Court has also said they support this route."

Stop Bush Coalition spokeswoman Anna Samson said her group has no doubt police will approve the new route.

"The police mentioned in court and the Supreme Court has mentioned that this is a route not to be disputed," she said.

Usually, the organisers of a scheduled protest must give police seven days notice of their action, and win approval for the march which then attracts legal protections for some summary offences such as obstructing traffic.

Ms Samson said police had no right to object to a lack of notice for the new route in this case.

"The police have created the circumstances that have made it impossible for us to give them seven days notice," she said.

Earlier on Wednesday, up to 300 school students from across Sydney skipped classes to gather in the city's CBD to protest against US President George W Bush without incident.

A linked protest in Melbourne drew about 200 protesters, many in school uniforms, to protest against Mr Bush's arrival in Australia.

The action was called The Walk out Against George Bush student rally.

One of their signs read: "Bush is coming to Australia, stop this weapon of mass destruction."

Protesters also chanted: "No racism, no war, this is what we're fighting for."

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