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About 15000 people joined in central Sydney to protest the lockout …

As many as 15,000 have joined on Sydney streets for an afternoon of live music and debate to ‘Keep Sydney Open’ in protest against the state government’s lockout laws.

Local residents began pouring into Belmore Park near Central Station at about midday on Sunday with punny signs aplenty before marching along Elizabeth Street to Hyde Park, with brief pauses outside venues which had closed its doors following the introduction of the laws two years ago.

A brief downpour of rain did not deter protesters from making their way to a stage where Sydney musicians Royal Headache and Art vs Science performed – covering relevant Beastie Boys track ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)’.

 

DJ Andrew Levins opened the event alongside his partner and toddler who wore earmuffs and stood with a sign which said: ‘Mum and Daddy met on the dancefloor at 2am’

Other notable posters used Premier Mike Baird's surname as a pun on 'bed', writing: 'It's not my Baird time'

Other notable posters used Premier Mike Baird’s surname as a pun on ‘bed’, writing: ‘It’s not my Baird time’

Organisers estimated more than 15,000 rocked up to the event, while ABC reported a more modest 8,000 were in attendance.

15,000 had clicked attending on the Facebook event, while a further 17,000 said they were interested in attending and 84,000 more had been invited.

Pictures of the peaceful protesters and their posters began flooding social media, with hashtag #KeepSydneyOpen quickly trending on Twitter.

Other notable posters used Premier Mike Baird’s surname as a pun on ‘bed’, writing: ‘It’s not my Baird time’.

Danny Lim, who is known for waving colourful posters in Sydney's CBD, stands ahead of about 15,000 protesters on Sunday afternoon as they marched down Elizabeth Street

Danny Lim, who is known for waving colourful posters in Sydney’s CBD, stands ahead of about 15,000 protesters on Sunday afternoon as they marched down Elizabeth Street

Many in attendance criticised that Star City Casino in Pyrmont is exempt from the lockout laws (poster at left shows James Packer, who owns the casino, during a well-publicised street fight)

Many in attendance criticised that Star City Casino in Pyrmont is exempt from the lockout laws (poster at left shows James Packer, who owns the casino, during a well-publicised street fight)

'We hit the dance floor not each other,' one poster said. Another had superimposed Premier Baird's face onto a chicken or vegetable stock product with the words 'laughing stock'

‘We hit the dance floor not each other,’ one poster said. Another had superimposed Premier Baird’s face onto a chicken or vegetable stock product with the words ‘laughing stock’

Some continued the #CasinoMike reference which was coined about two weeks ago in response to a Facebook post by the Premier which called the Keep Sydney Open campaign hysterical. 

DJ Andrew Levins had opened the event, and was joined by his toddler wearing ear muffs and carrying a sign that read: ‘Mum and Daddy met on the dancefloor at 2am’.

Isabella Manfredi, frontwoman of Sydney band The Preatures addressed the crowd at Hyde Park, as did Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus, as well as commentator Bernard Keane, and DJ and radio personality Nina Las Vegas.

The Hoodoo Gurus frontman delivered a heartfelt speech, which closed: ‘Save our live music, and save our city’s soul’.

He added that live music contributes almost $400 million to the NSW economy.

Isabella Manfredi said Sydney’s nightlife told her she ‘belonged and that I have an identity’.

She said the ‘greatest irony’ was that the lockout laws were created to shut down anti-social behaviour, but have instead shut down communities.

Some continued the #CasinoMike reference which was coined about two weeks ago in response to a Facebook post by the Premier which called the Keep Sydney Open campaign hysterical

Some continued the #CasinoMike reference which was coined about two weeks ago in response to a Facebook post by the Premier which called the Keep Sydney Open campaign hysterical

Organisers of Keep Sydney Open estimated that more than 15,000 were in attendance on Sunday afternoon

Organisers of Keep Sydney Open estimated that more than 15,000 were in attendance on Sunday afternoon

Bernard Keane said alcohol consumption had been on a steady decline since 2001, and added that the laws had not effectively responded to a culture of violence – claiming domestic violence had been on a steady increase.

Similarly, one protester carried a sign pointing out that two women had died each week across Australia last year – vastly more than the two men that died in Kings Cross over a two year period.

Tyson Koh, who mobilised the Keep Sydney Open campaign and rally, thanked police in his speech.

‘I commend NSW Police for being really helpful,’ he said. ‘They understand we have the right to peaceful protest.’

The rally was organised in response to the ‘negative affect’ the lockout laws are having on Sydney, the Facebook event described.

It was a ‘tribute to all the closed venues, small businesses and jobs lost since the lockouts’.

Those attending were campaigning for the removal of the 1.30am lockout in central Sydney, for exemptions to live music venues and for late-night public transport among other demands.

Several Greens MPs were in attendance, including state representatives Mehreen Faruqi, Jamie Parker and Jenny Leong.

A protester fashioned a coffin and tomb stone to mourn the 'death' of Sydney's nightlife and live music culture

A protester fashioned a coffin and tomb stone to mourn the ‘death’ of Sydney’s nightlife and live music culture

Many of the posters were calling for a return to Sydney's community  and live music culture

Many of the posters were calling for a return to Sydney’s community and live music culture

Actress Doris Goddard made an appearance and sported a 'Keep Sydney Open' t-shirt at the rally on Sunday

Actress Doris Goddard made an appearance and sported a ‘Keep Sydney Open’ t-shirt at the rally on Sunday

The outrage comes at about the two-year anniversary of the lockout laws, in which time a slew of live music venues have closed their doors.

On Thursday, APRA-AMCOS released a report stating that there had been a 40 per cent drop in live music ticket sales.

The success of the lockout laws in curbing alcohol-fuelled violence has been widely contested.

About two weeks ago, Premier Mike Baird was criticised for a Facebook post claiming there had been a 42.2 per cent drop in violence in Sydney’s CBD and a 60 per cent drop in Kings Cross.

Director of NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics, Don Weatherburn, said the figures were closer to 20 and 40 per cent, respectively, according to the ABC.

Others claimed the violence has simply been pushed into other areas, such as Newtown and the Star City Casino in Pyrmont which is just outside the lockout zone.

Some noted that Kings Crossed has had an 80 per cent reduction in foot traffic, Sydney Morning Herald reported, which would mean there has been a rise in violence per capita.

Others have claimed there had been a steady decline in violence prior to the lockout laws regardless, The Age reported.

A number of health professionals working at centrally located hospitals have praised the 2014 legislation introduced by the Barry O’Farrell and Mike Baird state Liberal governments. 

15,000 had clicked attending on the Facebook event, while a further 17,000 said they were interested in attending and 84,000 more had been invited

15,000 had clicked attending on the Facebook event, while a further 17,000 said they were interested in attending and 84,000 more had been invited

Isabella Manfredi, frontwoman of Sydney band The Preatures addressed the crowd at Hyde Park, as did Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus, as well as commentator Bernard Keane, and DJ and radio personality Nina Las Vegas

Isabella Manfredi, frontwoman of Sydney band The Preatures addressed the crowd at Hyde Park, as did Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus, as well as commentator Bernard Keane, and DJ and radio personality Nina Las Vegas

Many of those in attendance were mourning the loss of live music venues, such as Goodgod Small Club

Many of those in attendance were mourning the loss of live music venues, such as Goodgod Small Club

Tyson Koh, who mobilised the Keep Sydney Open campaign and rally, thanked police in his speech

Tyson Koh, who mobilised the Keep Sydney Open campaign and rally, thanked police in his speech

‘I commend NSW Police for being really helpful,’ he said. ‘They understand we have the right to peaceful protest,' Mr Koh said

‘I commend NSW Police for being really helpful,’ he said. ‘They understand we have the right to peaceful protest,’ Mr Koh said

The rally was organised in response to the ‘negative affect’ the lockout laws are having on Sydney, the Facebook event described

The rally was organised in response to the ‘negative affect’ the lockout laws are having on Sydney, the Facebook event described

The Hoodoo Gurus frontman delivered a heartfelt speech, which closed: ‘Save our live music, and save our city’s soul'

The Hoodoo Gurus frontman delivered a heartfelt speech, which closed: ‘Save our live music, and save our city’s soul’

Pictures of the peaceful protesters and their posters began flooding social media, with hashtag #KeepSydneyOpen quickly trending on Twitter

Pictures of the peaceful protesters and their posters began flooding social media, with hashtag #KeepSydneyOpen quickly trending on Twitter

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