More than 1000 WikiLeaks protesters have vowed to march through Sydney today despite being refused permission by police.
The march, which plans to go from Town Hall to the US consulate in Martin Place along George Street at 5.30pm, will cause more traffic problems after the Oprah Winfrey spectacular at the Opera House this morning.
Assistant Commissioner and Commander of the Central Metropolitan Region Mark Murdoch wrote a letter to the Support WikiLeaks Coalition, the organisers of the protest, denying them permission to hold their event.
He said the refusal was based on the fact that the group did not provide seven days' notice of their planned protest.
"This is a requirement for all groups requesting permission to protest.
"This group gave one day's notice of their desire to march along George Street from Town Hall to Martin Place in peak hour; this would cause too much disruption and was not acceptable," Assistant Commissioner Murdoch said.
In the letter, he warned the group they did not "have the protection for obstruction type offences".
"However, NSW Police offered to facilitate a static protest, an alternate route, and also offered to facilitate a march along George Street at another time. "Furthermore, a similar protest last Friday at Town Hall was assisted by police despite the Form 1 application again not complying with requirements. "Police explained the requirements then to the organisers so they were well aware of what was needed. "These are requirements for every group requesting permission to march," Assistant Commissioner Murdoch said.
It is understood organisers rejected these options.
Greens MP David Shoebridge is believed to be negotiating with police over the planned march.
"Police have given no adequate reason to support this refusal. It appears that the police would rather be minding Oprah than looking after the legitimate rights of the public to freedom of expression," he said.
A similar protest regarding WikiLeaks drew more than 1000 people at Town Hall last Friday, and was monitored by police.
A spokesman for Mr Shoebridge said organisers were expecting a higher turnout today.
"We are expecting a fair amount more today, for sure - it has had more publicity," he said.
Police warned the organisers of last Friday's protest that any future protest would need at least a week's notice, mainly due to the task of organising the required police numbers.
"Last Friday police explained the requirements to the organisers so they were well aware of what was needed," the police spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman would not speculate on what measures police might take if the protest proceeds as planned.
News of the police refusal has been interpreted as an "attack on our freedom of speech" by some protesters.
"The cops are trying to stop us from rallying!!! We have something in common with [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange and WikiLeaks in this outrageous attack on our freedom of speech. Even more reason to come today at 5.30 Town Hall for the rally," Patricia Lian wrote on the Facebook page dedicated to the march.
According to the Facebook page, the rally will be addressed by Mr Shoebridge, independent journalist Wendy Bacon and author Antony Lowenstein.
Mr Loewenstein, a spokesman for the rally, accused police of having ulterior motives for denying the protest.
"We have been given the reasons [for denying the protest], yes, but we don't accept them," he said.
"We feel the real reasons [for police denying the protest] could be rather that they might be overwhelmed with the Oprah circus in town and they don't want the embarrassment for the Gillard government while the international media is in town.
"We have a democratic right to protest and we will do so at Town Hall at 5.30pm today."
Mr Loewenstein said the protest was planned to be peaceful, but could not rule out possible violence.
"Look, you know ... it is planned to [be] a peaceful protest ... but what they, the police do, well that's up to them," he said.
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