As masses of police arrived in Broome this weekend, the town's residents met them with flowers and expressions of love.
Around 300 people gathered at the Broome markets for a peaceful mother's day demonstration against the police influx. Anti-gas protestors claim officers are in town for a pre-emptive strike against protests at James Price Point as Woodside resumes work on its gas project.
People began gathering at the markets this morning, armed with love-heart shaped signs and bunches of flowers.
Mother Reema Nock – a resident of 11 years and mother of three – said she had turned up to support the Broome community in voicing their concerns.
"It's a bit weird actually – I was at the markets yesterday and there was heaps of police around – it's a bit hostile, a bit over the top," she said.
"We're about peacefulness here – we're no enemy and we don't pose any threat, so it's kind of irrational. We're not violent people, we haven’t been storming the buildings and hurting people."
Organiser Mitch Torres told participants to remember that the protest was a silent vigil: "We're not shouting, we come with love," she said. "This is a message from the mothers of Broome – we are concerned about the environment that our children are being forced to live under."
Just before noon, the group crossed the road to the Broome Police Station to present the gifts to police.
Ms Torres and Anne Poelina handed over a letter, outlining the group's concerns, to Sgt Troy Kendall, who said he would pass it on to Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan.
"Last year, the police were used as a security service to escort Woodside workers and equipment onto a site to clear sensitive ecosystem habitat for which they did not have planning, environmental or heritage approval," the letter said.
"The police arrested Broome residents who were trying to prevent a private company from breaking the law."
More than 140 additional police officers have been recruited to Broome but Kimberley District Superintendent Mick Sutherland defended the decision saying the extra officers should be there indefinitely.
"It's operational requirements that we have the police here," he said. "The planning is still underway... this is my operation... I applied for it, I have asked people to be here.
Mr Sutherland said he believed Broome should welcome an increased police presence in the town, as it was to protect community safety.
"Everyone in WA wants more police – they're happy with the crime in town are they?" he said. "The bottom line is that is what we do – we remain committed to ensuring the safety of all people.
"We haven't got anything to do with James Price Point. People have a lawful right to undertake activities anywhere on a public road.
"If I make a decision to bring extra police in, I don't consider what that is to the local community. If it's about James Price Point – well, go and talk to Woodside and the Government, don't talk to the police.
"We've got one objective – and that's ensuring the safety of the people and telling people to get off the road. If they get on the road, we will go through the process we did last year."
"The bottom line is – everyone knows the rules. If the people in town are concerned about the police – if you're not doing anything wrong, what have you got to talk about?"
The community remains poised for action, with rumours swirling that police intend to clamp down on any protest activity within days.
Environs Kimberley spokesman Martin Pritchard said community members were facing battles on several fronts over the project, including in the courts.
"But what's facing us at the moment is Monday morning, when probably the police and Woodside are going to come in (with equipment)," he said.
Premier Colin Barnett said he "regretted" having to send the police up to Broome but "the fact is that previous demonstrations have not been peaceful"."I respect the right for people to demonstrate peacefully but recent history in Broome has shown this not to be the case," he said.