Pro-Palestinian protesters charged after Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

<span>Police with pro-Palestinian protesters who entered the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade along Oxford Street.</span><span>Photograph: Esther Linder/AAP</span>
Police with pro-Palestinian protesters who entered the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade along Oxford Street.Photograph: Esther Linder/AAP

Eight pro-Palestinian protesters who allegedly attempted to disrupt Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras have been charged.

Police confirmed a 25-year-old man and seven women, aged between 29 and 42, were charged after entering the parade route near Taylor Square about 9.20pm on Saturday.

All were charged with “more than three people use violence to cause fear”, police said.

The man was also charged with possession of a bright light distress signal in a public place.

They were all granted conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on 28 March.

The ninth person, a 29-year-old woman, was released pending further investigation.

The protesters allegedly entered the parade route ahead of the New South Wales premier, Chris Minns, and held up a banner that read: Queer Solidarity with Palestine Resistance.

They then allegedly attempted to run away from police while holding lit flares. At least two were thrown to the ground, and were then moved away from the parade route by police while Minns’ group of Rainbow Labor was held at a distance from the commotion.

The parade then continued on.

Police said there were no other incidents during the parade.

As with every Mardi Gras parade, Saturday’s began with the roar of motorbike engines as the Dykes on Bikes rumbled along Oxford Street.

This year, though, the 250 motorbike riders broke with tradition, at Taylor Square pausing for a moment of silence in honour of Jesse Baird and Luke Davies. Serving police officer Beau Lamarre has been charged with their murder in Paddington less than two weeks ago.

“We need to bear in mind that Mardi Gras has long been a celebration but also a commemoration in our community,” the Dykes on Bikes outgoing president, Emily Saunders, told Guardian Australia. “This is a resilient community that’s had to work through a lot to get to where they are today.”

With heavy police guard, a quiet group of police officers marched in matching rainbow T-shirts, drawing both boos and applause from onlookers.

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The Qantas float carried Davies’ name in honour of the 29-year-old flight attendant as his colleagues were cheered along the route in rainbow kangaroo shirts.

Marchers in the Sydney Swans float paid tribute to Baird, wearing black armbands in memory of the 26-year-old AFL umpire.

A vigil for the pair at Green Park in Sydney’s east was held on Friday night.

A slideshow of images and videos played at the vigil and mourners formed a line to lay flowers, light candles and sign condolence books, many staying well after the sun went down.

The federal Sydney MP and environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, NSW police minister, Yasmin Catley, independent MP Alex Greenwich, Sydney lord mayor, Clover Moore, and Network Ten presenter Narelda Jacobs were among those who attended.

With Australian Associated Press.