As the protests continue in the United States over the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, Australians have taken to the streets in capital cities around the country in peaceful protest.
On June 2, hundreds gathered at Hyde Park, Sydney marching towards NSW Parliament and then later stopped at Martin Place.
While holding up signs, many could be seen wearing face masks, as organisers urged attendees to not only remain peaceful but practice and maintain social distancing.
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Gadigal speaker Tristan Field spoke at the rally saying: “How many deaths in custody have we had and how many cops have stood up for us?”
“We need a huge upheaval right now, we need to stop black people dying in this country and around the world because it is just unjust.”
Once they stopped in Hyde Park, protestors chanted “no peace, no justice” and “I can’t breathe”, mimicking the messaging at protests throughout the US.
In Perth, 19-year-old teenager, Tanesha Bennell, with Bibbulmun ancestry, organised a Black Lives Matter protest which drew thousands on June 1.
In an interview with WA Today, Bennell told the outlet that she had been treated differently to her “darker-skinned brothers and sisters”, which was the driving force behind creating the platform.
“Obviously I’m fair-skinned, I have a lot of privilege being fair-skinned and being Indigenous,” she said. “I wanted to use that … I thought if I have a platform and a privilege then I’m going to use that and give my darker-skinned, less privileged brothers and sisters a place to speak and a place to be safe.”
Tanesha Bennell you are a bloody QUEEN, so much love to you girl!!!! ✊?✊?✊?✊?✊?
Bennell said that “being light skin is different” and that she didn’t face the same struggles as the people she grew up with.
“I was outcast from both communities for a little bit,” she told the outlet. “I was too light for the black kids but too black for the white kids. I have been called a boong, which is an offensive Aboriginal slur, from strangers at work.
“It’s been difficult but I definitely haven’t been hit the hardest and I have been given amazing opportunities from being Indigenous within my community and choosing to stand up,” she said, before adding that the movement in America is “incredible”.
“But I wanted to come at it from a different perspective as solidarity but also recognition of the Indigenous lives that we have lost in custody and that we still continue to lose.”
Video of Indigenous Teen Being Arrested by Police Officers Goes Viral and His Family Speak Out
On June 2, a video of the arrest of an Indigenous Sydney teenager surfaced online, prompting an internal investigation and in turn, a peaceful protest in Sydney.
The 17-year-old was arrested on Monday, June 1 at 5pm in Surry Hills and was part of a group of five teens, who were having an argument with the police.
One teen can be heard saying: “I’ll crack you across the jaw, bro” before the officer’s grabbed the boy’s hands and forced them behind his back. The teenager is then dragged down onto the brick pavement, as the other teens yell “what the f–k!”.
A NSW Police spokesperson said that the boy had “threatened an officer” before being arrested and was then taken to St Vincent’s Hospital for screening. He has since been released to his family.
“An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest is now underway by officers attached to the Professional Standards Command,” the statement said.
“The constable involved has been placed on restricted duties while this review is carried out.”
The person who posted the video, who remains anonymous, was a relative of the teenager and told reporters that as a result of the arrest, “he sustained a bruised shoulder, cuts & grazing to his knee, face & elbow & chipped teeth.”
“This is so wrong on so many levels. I am that pissed off with what has happened,” they added.
On Wednesday, June 3, Ali Mongta-Finn, the sister of the teen told ABC’s triple j Hack program that her brother was shaken up and very distraught.
“Teenagers, they’re lippy, but you don’t just abuse children because they’re lippy,” she said.
NSW Police said that the professional standards command was investigating the incident and the constable involved has been “placed on restricted duties”
“We’re all aware of incidents that have taken place in the United States over the past week and we’re aware of the sensitivities around what’s occurring overseas,” Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing told reporters on Tuesday.
“Am I concerned about what I’m seeing in the footage? Absolutely. But I’m equally concerned about others who may use the footage to inflame it and turn it into something it’s not.”
Following the incident on June 1, NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Michael Willing said he was “concerned that people will use this footage and turn it into something it’s not.”
“We’re not the United States of America,” he told reporters. “We’ve got great relationships with our local community. We will continue to work with our local community as we move through this and get to the bottom of the circumstances around it.”
A press conference is expected to be held on June 3 by the teenager’s parents and relatives at the NSW Parliament.
Protests Being Held in Australia
When: 3-5 PM, Saturday, June 6
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When: 12-1:30 PM, Saturday, June 6
When: 12 PM, Saturday, June 6
When: 1-5 PM, Saturday, June 6
When: 3 PM, Saturday, June 6
When: 2-5 PM, Saturday, June 6
When: 2 PM, Saturday, June 6