Hundreds of Canberrans marched in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement today (Friday 5 June), protesting from Garema Place in Civic to the lawns of Parliament House.
The event is part of a global movement against black lives lost in police custody, following the death of George Floyd in the USA early last week.
However, the peaceful protest was organised in collaboration with the local Aboriginal community to also draw attention to the high numbers of Indigenous lives lost in police custody and institutionalised racism in Australia.
Ngambri Ngunnawal women Leah House helped organise the protest on Friday, for a topic that is close to her heart.
“Our event today was to highlight the injustices First Nations people in Australia face, and to stand in solidarity with people of colour not only in the United States but across the globe,” she said.
“We had to take that opportunity because people are listening now.”
The event began in Garema Place, Civic, with speakers from the Aboriginal community addressing protesters before the crowd started moving towards the lawns of Parliament House.
Protesters gathered in front of the building, sporting signs and chanting ‘black lives matter’.
Ms House said she hoped those who attended the protest would continue to offer their support to the Indigenous community after today.
“It’s not just important right now, it’s been important since 1788. It is important today because we have people’s attention, people are listening and people are watching,” she said.
“I hope everyone who attended can take away why First Nations people are so exhausted, drained and angry – this has been our reality for too long.”
Today’s protest focused on the 432 Indigenous lives lost in police custody since the final report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991.
“This has been happening for a very long time, this isn’t an issue that’s been imported to Australia like Mr Morrison would like to believe,” Ms House said.
“We protest today because our people here deserve the outrage that we are seeing over in America.
“You try telling 432 mothers, kids, families that it is not enough for us as Australians to care.”
Sisters Chloe, 20, and Ashley Davis, 17, joined the protest with friend Julia Page, 20, saying they were overwhelmed by how many people had attended.
“We came today to stand in solidarity with everyone in Canberra and for our friends and people who can’t be here today,” Julia said.
“And to unite as one and show that black lives matter, especially in light of what’s just happened in America,” Chloe added.
“I expected there to be about half the amount of people here today than there were. The march was amazing; there was so many people showing their support.”
Ms House said she appreciated the effort people had taken to attend today’s protest.
“I think we should be pointing out there are so many more people that are aware of what’s going on and asking for a change than there are not,” she said.
“Only one person came out against what we were doing on Friday – one person against all of us.
“The world is changing and we are seeing that, we saw it today.”