Following the Friday 5 June Canberra Black Lives Matter protest, several hundreds of Canberrans are participating in a protest outside Parliament House today, 6 June, from 3pm.
Today’s event is one of many taking place in Australia, and follows mass-scale protesting across the USA since 26 May in response to the brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin a day earlier.
The Australian protests take on further meaning, with participants and organisers also speaking out about Indigenous deaths in custody.
432 Indigenous Australians have lost their lives in police custody since 1991.
Just prior to commencing some 555 people had registered on Facebook they were attending today’s Canberra Black Lives Matter protest, with a further 1,300 expressing interest in attending.
ABC News reported more than 10,000 people gathered in King George Square in Brisbane’s CBD for their protest, which kicked off at 1pm, with gatherings of a similar scale taking place across the country.
ACT Policing issued a statement this morning to say they will work with the event organisers to ensure that people are able to peacefully protest while also ensuring community safety.
“Police will attend and monitor the protests but will not be focused on issuing infringements for breaches of ACT Health Directions,” it said.
“Vulnerable members of the community considering attending the protest should ask themselves if participating in a large gathering is safe for them.
“While officers will be considered and focused on educating the community about health directions, property destruction or other violent acts will not be tolerated,” their statement read.
Crowds in Melbourne today were encouraged to spread out and adhere to social distancing protocols, with Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton saying yesterday that organisers could be fined if the event breaches health directives.
Yesterday Prime Minister Scott Morrison advised Australians to reconsider protesting in mass numbers.
“Our message is very clear, that the health risks of gathering in such large numbers and the risks of people coming into close proximity are real,” he said.
“Australians have worked incredibly hard in recent months and have undergone great sacrifices to protect the health of the most vulnerable and that has included our Indigenous communities.
“For all of those Australians who couldn’t attend the funeral of a family member, or couldn’t see a loved one in a nursing home, or a veteran who couldn’t remember their fallen colleagues by attending a war memorial service on Anzac Day, I think all Australians owe all those other Australians agreed duty of responsibility and I say to them don’t go.
“Not because you shouldn’t express your view, find another way to express your view. We all found a way on Anzac Day to thank those who gave us our liberty, and not gather in large numbers,” Mr Morrison said.