Saturday, 31 March 2007

Our Legal Right to Protest

We've had our final check-in with the NSW Police. They are the regulatory authority for the assembly we are holding; we assemble under state law, not council. Our right to assemble does not take away council's right to issue infringement notices for council's regulations. Because we are actively challenging council’s interpretation of several NSW laws, infringement notices are a possibility. Remember that Barking Mad will challenge these if issued to Barking Mad members. If you are not a member, you can sign up on the day.

We expect participants to sign in, read, understand and abide by the terms and conditions of the assembly, and wear the name badge provided at registration.

We expect good behaviour from you & your dog/s. Silly as it is, ‘earning’ back our rights to public space by demonstrating responsible behaviour (even though many of our rights were removed with doubtful due-process decades ago) may be a quicker way to regain our non-criminal status back in society than a protracted court challenge. If your pooch isn’t acting how you would like, take appropriate action such as putting it on a short lead or removing it. Be sensible, be cautious, respectful, helpful and HAVE FUN.

**Two dogs mauled, violent attack on police and two rangers still missing**. This is NOT the headline we want. The media has been known to exaggerate. Our society tolerates assaults on people by other people, crimes against property including graffiti, drunken and disorderly behaviour, littering and speeding a lot more than it tolerates one dog protecting its space against another animal – these are the facts, be they logical or not.

Our analogy to Sydney's ban of dogs on beaches is this: people exceed the posted speeds on roads in their cars, yet they don't ban all of us from driving. So why do they ban us all from the beach because some people 'exceed the speed'? It's nonsensical. Once again, we do not support Ranger Anger. From my discussions with participants over the last week, I acknowledge there is a lot of frustration at the chosen priorities of northern beaches rangers to issue notices for dog offences.

I've also heard that many people think the ban of dogs on beaches is state wide - it's not! I live one hour north and 90% of our beaches are dog beaches (some on lead, some off lead), and yes, it's an urban area. See you on Salty Dog's Day Out, until then, enjoy your companions!

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