SYDNEY — Tens of thousands protested across Australia June 5-6, including more than 20,000 here, in solidarity with U.S. demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd as well as against Aboriginal deaths in police custody. The cops in New South Wales appealed to a Supreme Court judge for a ban on the protest, ostensibly because of the government’s ban on social gatherings due to coronavirus, and got it. Just before the action began, the Court of Appeals voided the ban.
Outrage had been further fueled after a Sydney cop was caught on camera just a week before, slamming an Aboriginal teenager face first into the ground. The rally in Melbourne also went ahead despite government demands to cancel it. The authorities say organizers still face fines for disobeying public health orders.
Many carried handmade signs saying, “Aboriginal lives matter” and “432 deaths — No convictions.” That’s the number of Aboriginal people a government inquiry said have died at the hands of police or prison guards since 1991. Not one of those responsible has been convicted.
In Wollongong, a city of about 300,000 just south of Sydney, several thousand marched through the city center.
At the rally here messages were read out from family members of indigenous people who have died in custody. One was from Leetona Dungay, the mother of David Dungay, a 26-year-old man killed by prison guards at Long Bay jail in Sydney in December 2015.
Dungay, like Floyd, had repeatedly told guards, “I can’t breathe” before he died. “I am determined to continue to fight to see justice for my son,” she said.