Canberra: Tens of thousands of people staged mass Black Lives Matter protests across Australia on Saturday in support of the movement.
The protests were not only against the May 25 police custody death of the unarmed African-American man George Floyd, but they also highlighted the mistreatment and marginalisation of Australia’s Aboriginal people, reports the BBC.
Banners reading “I can’t breathe” remembered the words of Floyd before his death, while another said: “Same story, different soil”.
The Sydney protest had been ruled unlawful on Friday by the New South Wales (NSW) Supreme Court under coronavirus social distancing rules.
But organisers took the case to the state court of appeal and it overturned the ban on Saturday afternoon, just 15 minutes before the scheduled start.
The protest was authorised for 5,000 people. Health ministry directions would normally prohibit public gatherings of more than 10 people.
Organisers across Australia encouraged those attending rallies to use hand sanitisers and observe social distancing.
Images showed that although the majority of demonstrators have been wearing face coverings, many of the protesters have been close together.
The chief health official in the state of Victoria said it was “not the time to be having large gatherings” and police have threatened to fine organisers and those breaking social distancing rules.
Rallies have also been organised in Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and elsewhere, reports the BBC.
Many of the demonstrators in Brisbane were wrapped in indigenous flags.
No police officer has ever been held criminally responsible for an Aboriginal death in custody.
Indigenous people comprise almost 30 per cent of Australian inmates but less than 3 per cent of the national population, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.