Police ready for 'warriors'
POLICE have received tip-offs that rogue protestors are preparing bizarre ways to disrupt the Repco Rally Australia, like throwing frozen roadkill onto the racing track.
Some anti-rally groups are said to be recruiting “warriors” to disrupt the event and plan to light fires around the track to distract the drivers, as well as making it look like the rally cars have killed local wildlife.
Tweed/Byron Police Area Commander, Superintendent Michael Kenny, says officers will be on stand-by to deal with any issues, no matter how unusual, at the Australian leg of the World Rally Championships, which begins in the Tweed and Kyogle shires from tomorrow.
“There's rumours abounding,” Supt Kenny said. “One of the more bizarre ideas is that there is roadkill being put into freezers and this will be thrown onto the road during the event. That is a rumour at best.
“Issues were discussed in the media over a week ago in relation to the lighting of fires to create smoke to stop stages. That is ridiculous.”
Supt Kenny said police had to take all claims seriously.
“We encourage the public to provide information, particularly information that could result in dangerous activity and put the safety of the public, the drivers and the spectators in jeopardy.”
On the other hand, he said, protest groups such as the No Rally Group and Seventh Generation have been liaising with police about their own peaceful protest plans.
“They've been fantastic and very co-operative,” Supt Kenny said. “They intend to hold a number of peaceful protests and we support that and their right to do that.”
More than 150 police will arrive in the area tomorrow for the operation known as Palisade, including public order and riot squad police, the airwing helicopter, a dog squad and extra traffic police.
Supt Kenny said motorists should be patient, as a number of traffic delays were expected.
Meanwhile, Repco Rally Australia organising committee director Gary Connelly said the controversy surrounding the event was not such a bad thing.
“We've had the most amazing free publicity we could ever have asked for,” Mr Connelly said.
He said anti-rally claims, such as drivers practising at nights leading up to the event or 100 helicopters flying over retirement villages, were distressing for people who weren't informed about the event.