Coronavirus News Asia

Thousands march for racial justice in Australia

Thousands of protesters rallied for racial equality in cities across Australia on Saturday despite official warnings the demonstrations could undermine the country’s success in suppressing the coronavirus.

The biggest demonstration took place in the Western Australian capital, Perth, where several thousand people gathered in a park waving “Black Lives Matter” signs and Aboriginal flags.

Smaller protests for Aboriginal rights were held in Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory, and towns in neighboring Queensland – both regions with numerous indigenous communities.

“We are here to support our future as indigenous people and to walk against the injustices of… what happens to our people, with over 400 black deaths in custody,” one unidentified protester told public broadcaster ABC at the Darwin march.

With the exception of the Darwin demonstration, which had authorization, the other protests violated official injunctions against mass gatherings instituted three months ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

But organizers made efforts to keep the protesters spread out and mostly wearing face masks, and police did not intervene.

It was the second straight weekend of large protests in Australia, initially organized in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States following the killing by a white policeman of African-American George Floyd.

The movement has resonated particularly strongly with many in Australia, a country also wrestling with the legacy of racial injustice towards the country’s indigenous peoples.

Aboriginal Australians are vastly over-represented in the prison population, and there have been more than 400 indigenous deaths in custody in the last three decades.

No prosecutions have been brought over the deaths, despite dozens of investigations, inquests and in some cases video evidence of abuse.

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