KRYSTAL GORDON AND MELANIE WHITING
A 44 year old Dinmore man has been charged for wearing a mask during a protest in the G20 declared area.
Media reports indicate the man was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask which is the trademark of activist group Anonymous.
The man was arrested around 1.45pm near the intersection of Tank Street and North Quay during the BrisCan People’s March and is now excluded from the declared area.
He will face Brisbane Magistrates on December 4 for possession of a prohibited item in a G20 security area.
Under the G20 (Safety and Security) Act 2013 masks are a prohibited item.
Activist group Anonymous affiliate David Kennedy said the ban on face coverings infringes their democratic rights.
“Universal declarations of human rights have defended one’s rights of privacy – one’s right to anonymity and if a person chooses to attend a public place and conceal their identity they should be perfectly in their rights to do so,” said Mr Kennedy.
“We do see it as an overreach but we’re also concerned with maintaining the peace and trying to prevent any unnecessary violent outbursts.”
He added police have advised them that attempts to conceal their identity could be met with force.
“It becomes a little tricky if one were to be in possession of a mask and making no effort to conceal their identity,” he said.
“There is a bit of a feeling that some Anons may carry a mask but wear it on their head or something similar which is a bit of a compromise.
“Technically, what defines a mask is being a mask? It has to be masking – other than that it’s just a plastic sculpture.”
A statement from Queensland Police said masks are prohibited without a lawful excuse and can be confiscated by police under the G20 (Safety and Security) Act 2013.
The Anonymous protesters are being spoken to by police and having their details taken. Masks are on back of heads not concealing ID #G20
— Jayne Azzopardi (@JayneAzzo) November 15, 2014
Mr Kennedy said although he cannot speak on behalf of Anonymous he believes civil liberties, which are his personal concern, resonate with the group.
He said a small group of Anonymous protesters in their masks assembled at Wandering Cooks near Musgrave Park at approximately 3pm yesterday to test the limits of the G20 Act.
“It was basically a photo shoot that allowed us to mask up and get some images out to the public,” he said.
“It’s an act of civil disobedience in that we were actually located inside the red zone [but] we were not inside a primary exclusion zone.”
How many Anonymous are there? We are more than you think. We are more than anybody thinks. We are many. (34)
— Anonymous (@YourAnonCentral) November 14, 2014
Despite the absence of police at the site, a nearby officer confirmed reports of masked protesters and said they were investigating the incident.
Although this could be considered as taunting police, Mr Kennedy maintains the stunt was not intended to do so and that they are committed to getting their message across through peaceful demonstration.
“It’s what we would have preferred to do tomorrow during the march but in order to keep the peace we’ve largely agreed to a sort of compromise as it were.
“We don’t want to incur the wrath of law enforcement over something that shouldn’t really be an issue.”
Mr Kennedy said they would have a presence at the First Nation rally for decolonisation for profits at Roma Street this morning.
He also indicated they will be participating in the G20 People’s March at 11am today which is expected to be the largest G20 protest, bringing together a host of community groups that each have their own agenda.