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Hundreds of Sydneysiders took to the streets in protest last night

The march was in solidarity with the George Floyd demonstrators in the US and in response to police violence towards First Nations people in Australia

Written by
Divya Venkataraman

As outrage over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota continues to spur mass protests in the US, activists also spilled onto the streets of Sydney in a show of support for the Australian 'Black Lives Matter' movement. 

On Tuesday, June 2, a few hours after NSW Police decided to launch an internal investigation into the arrest of an Indigenous teenager in Surry Hills, hundreds of people gathered in Sydney last night in protest of the treatment of Indigenous Australians and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.  In a video circulated on social media, the police officer under investigation forces the Indigenous boy's hand behind his back and forces him to the ground. Protestors met at Hyde Park, before marching to the NSW Parliament and finally gathering in Martin Place. Organisers urged protestors to remain peaceful and practice physical distancing. Many protestors also chose to wear surgical masks.

According to a special report by the Guardian, at least 432 Indigenous Australian have died in custody since 1991. David Dungay, a 26-year-old Dunghutti man, told the five prison guards restraining him, “I can’t breathe” no less than 12 times, before dying in Long Bay Gaol in 2015.  In December 2017, Tanya Day died in custody after falling and hitting her head 17 days earlier. In 2019, Kumanjayi Walker was shot in his home by police.

On the morning of Wednesday, June 3, police commissioner Mick Fuller addressed the arrest on June 2."Regardless of whether he should or shouldn't have been arrested, regardless of whether he has committed a crime or not... we certainly could have handled that situation better," he said on 2GB Radio. He went on to insist that, while he was not certain of the officer's record, he felt it was likely that the officer had a “clean history”, and his actions were those of someone just having a "bad day". 

If you want to get involved, another protest will be held on Saturday, June 6 at Lee Street in Chippendale, protesting against black deaths in custody. If you chose to attend, please ensure you practice good hygiene and safe physical distancing as much as you can. 

Find out how you can show your support to Indigenous organisations here. 

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