More than 1000 people have gathered in Perth overnight to show solidarity for American demonstrators reeling after the death of unarmed Black man George Floyd.
Floyd was pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer for nearly nine minutes; for much of that time, Floyd was unresponsive. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who along with three others was fired over the incident, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Protesters in Perth, who met at Forrest Chase – an outdoor shopping mall in the city’s CBD, held placards that said “We can’t breathe” and “400-plus deaths.”
The “400-plus deaths” sign refers to findings from The Guardian’s special 2018 Deaths Inside report that used 10 years of coronial data to find 407 Indigenous Australians had died in police care since the end of 1991’s royal commission.
Police presence was strong at the event but the rally remained peaceful with speakers addressing the parallels between the death of George Floyd and Australia’s Black deaths in custody.
There will be planned demonstrations in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney over the next few days.
One Sydney event planned for Tuesday was cancelled due to a counter protest happening at the same location. Another event, the “Sydney Black Lives Matter protest” has been created on Facebook with protestors planning to meet at the Archibald Memorial Fountain at 5pm. The group will walk to NSW Parliament and onto the US Embassy.
“We will take a knee, showing our solidarity to Indigenous communities here in Australia and the African American community in America,” the Facebook event said.
The event is being led by a First Nations organiser from the Australian Communist Party Kieran Stewart-Asheeton and there will be First Nations peoples speaking at the rally. Stewart-Asheeton said he will be in touch with Gadigal elders Tuesday morning to confirm their support for the march, “if they request us to cancel the event we will respect their wishes and be cancelling,” he said.
Attendees have been asked to bring masks and water. More on the event below:
In an email to American citizens living in Australia, the US consulate said its Sydney city offices would shut early on Tuesday as a result. “Police expect counter protesters,” the email read, without providing further details.
Meanwhile thousands of New Zealanders have marched peacefully across NZ cities in solidarity with George Floyd.
A crowd of about 4,000 people gathered in Auckland on Monday to chant “Black Lives Matter” in the streets.
The event was part of a number of protests around the globe, from London to Berlin and the Netherlands.
Protesters in New Zealand’s Auckland city sat on the road after their peaceful march as they raised clenched fists in a sign of unity, solidarity and Black Power.
Social media posts showed demonstrators outside the American Consulate in Auckland wielding posters that read “Justice For George Floyd” and “Are We Next?”.
In the capital Wellington, more than 100 people walked from New Zealand’s parliament building to the American Embassy, chanting “Black Lives Matter”.
Swati Pandey of Reuters contributed to this report.