Police couldn't legally evict three Aboriginal activists from a tent embassy in Brisbane's Musgrave Park because the land has been set aside for Aboriginal use, a court has heard.
Wayne Wharton, Bogaine Skuthorpe-Spearim and Hamish Chitts were arrested at the Aboriginal tent embassy shortly after midnight on December 12.
They were among a group of people trying to re-establish the embassy in the park after Brisbane City Council shut down the site.
The trio appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday applying to amend their bail conditions, which state they cannot return to the park.
Police prosecutor Adrian Lange told the court, which was packed with supporters of the defendants, that the three men were among a "large" group which police confronted at the tent embassy at 12.10am (AEST) on December 12.
The defendants refused police orders to leave the park and were arrested, he said.
The trio have been charged with contravening a direction under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act.
Defence barrister Andrew Preston said a title deed stated the southern corner of Musgrave Park where his clients were detained was freehold land set aside in 1999 under a Deed of Grant In Trust "for Aborigines and for no other purpose whatsoever".
He argued the land isn't a public place, so police couldn't lawfully remove his clients from it.
"There can only be a breach of legislation if this area is a public place," he said.
Magistrate John Costello adjourned the hearing for a date to be fixed, saying he wasn't expecting such a complex case.
Council shut down the site last month, with Lord Mayor Graham Quirk saying elders asked him to do so because the tent embassy's original intent was not being honoured.
The park saw rowdy scenes in May last year, when hundreds of police descended on the park to evict tent embassy supporters on the orders of the council.