Up to 3,000 people have gathered in central Sydney after a court overturned a previous protest ban over social distancing concerns.
“These protests here today are inspired by what’s happening in the US. People are hyper aware of that and are very supportive of that — and we have our own issues in Australia,” journalist Angus Watson told CNN.
Organized by indigenous rights groups — among others — under the banner “Stop Black Deaths in Custody,” rallies are also going ahead in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.
Australia’s indigenous population — composed of mainland Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders — makes up 2.4% of the country’s 25 million people, yet accounts for more than a quarter of its total prisoner population.
Analysis from Change the Record, an Aboriginal-led justice coalition, found that there have been 449 indigenous deaths in custody between 1980 and 2011, which represents 24% of all deaths in custody over that period.
“They want their voices heard, they feel like there has not been any convictions, there has not been any justice,” Watson said. “These protests in Sydney here today are matched across the country in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and other centers. People saying that they’re angry, they’re fed up and they want to be heard.”