More than 100,000 Australians took to the streets this last weekend to demand an end to deaths in custody of First Nations people. Seeing block after block filled with people in the nation’s capitals, and more in regional centres around the country, moved the nation and grabbed the attention of the word.
It brought home that the killing of black people by police does not only happen on the other side of the planet.
The march in Sydney
Video from Guardian News
In its own way, it highlighted the efforts of citizens of the United States and citizens of Australia coming together to take on a shared social sickness. Australia has shown solidarity with George Floyd’s, his family and the huge number of Americans calling out for justice.
The march in Melbourne
Video from 9 News Australia
There are the few who have and continue to attack those who took part in the Australian marches, claiming that coming out into the streets Irrisponsible and risking more covid-19 infections. The reality is that much of this comes form the spreaders of the politics of hate and those who excuse it. Among them some who were barely a week ago attacking any form of lockdown and social distancing.
In other circumstances, there would have been a very good argument for staying home. But this is different. The death of 432 First Nations people since the findings of the Royal Commission into Deaths in custody were tabled in 1992 is sobering, and call for an unusual response.
Nothing has been done to stem this epidemic. Not a single police officer involved in these killings has been prosecuted, and the voice of the victims has been effectively silenced. This was a chance to correct this.
The march in Brisbane
Video from Sky News Australia
Is it any wonder then, that First Nations communities have seen no other choice but to seize the moment of revulsion over the murder of George Floyd, to put a spotlight on what is going on here in Australia?
Yes. This has posed a health risk. It would be much better if it didn’t have to be this way. But the way the situation has unfolded, means that there was no other choice other than to act now and unite together in a positive and common cause, necessary for our future.
When so many people of all colours, ethnic communities and faiths, the young and the older, stand together and put themselves at some risk, to support Australia’s First Nations and those fighting a similar cause in the United States, break through the wall of silence. They make history and give a glimpse of what is possible.
The march in Adelaide
Video from Sky News Australia
The marchers exposed a festering sore in Australian society, handed down from the colonisation of the land and the violent dispossession of those who already lived in it. The dispossession met resistance, which has carried on to the present battle for ‘treaty and recognition of sovereignty.
This is not a battle of black against white. White society has its own divide between those who benefit and those who don’t. Race has long been used as a means to divide and rule, hiding that we have much in common, and that together we can be stronger and overcome injustice.
The coronavirus epidemic has taught that to move forward as a nation, we must join and act together. How can we do this if we are divided? How can we come together and unseat those holding the reins of power over us and build a better future?
The march in Canberra
Video from OnScene ACT
Racial profiling has become more pronounced in recent times, and this is deeply embedded in the nation’s political institutions, law, and policing. First Nations people are feeling the brunt of it. Others have faced it as well. Middle East and African communities have had their share of it. Asians are now target target.
We must turn our attention on those who are benefiting from dividing us, to exposing what they are up to, and moving forward.
The new unity around the Black Lives Matter movement has provided a rare opportunity to take this to a higher level. Who can honestly say this is not worth it?
The march in Perth
Video from Max Freedom
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