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Issue #1923      July 13, 2020

Report: BLM rally on Gadigaal Land (Sydney)

The Black Lives Matter movement stays strong in Sydney and all over Australia! Gadigal Elder Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovener, daughter of Aboriginal activist and wharfie Chicka Dixon, her daughter Nadeena Dixon, with the assistance of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), and the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA), had their voices heard by protesters and police in the thousands in Sydney on Sunday 5th July. A static demonstration was held at Djarrbarrgalli, now the The Domain. Djarrbarrgalli is a sacred area for the Gadigal people where historically corroborees were held, and under colonisation, Djarrbarrgalli was used as a place to soapbox for Aboriginal voices to be heard. This sentiment was echoed at the peaceful demonstration where the families of the victims of police brutality were able to speak on the importance of Black lives, criticisms of the justice system, how police brutality has affected them, and ultimately the Black struggle in Australia.

In Sydney, Gadigal elder Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovener opened with a Welcome to Country, and a traditional smoking ceremony that welcomed all present families of victims of violence from the State. The demonstration maintained a crowd of peaceful protesters in the thousands. Following the ceremony, more families and Black people were given the platform to speak, at which time the crowd was treated to a spoken word piece, followed by Aboriginal-Filipino artist Rhyan “DOBBY” Clapham performing with original lyrics over Wondaland Records’ HELL YOU TALMBOUT listing off the names of the black victims of state violence here in Australia and internationally, calling on protesters to say the victims’ names.

During the demonstration, specific demands were given to the Australian government. First, to stop black deaths in custody and to bring justice to the families through reopening all cases and charging those responsible for those Black deaths. Secondly, to abolish the police as an institution, as the traditional owners of this land did not need police for millennia before white colonisers arrived. Thirdly, a closing of juvenile detention centres, a legal institution that disproportionately affects Aboriginal minors, especially in the Northern Territory. Lastly, an end to the Northern Territory Intervention, which is a set of legislation aimed at suppressing the freedoms of Aboriginal people there. At this time a 48-year-old man was removed from the park after yelling at protesters.

Shortly before the closing of the ceremony, Comrade Paul McAleer, the MUA Sydney Branch Secretary and member of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) gave a speech connecting the Black struggle to the anti-Imperialist, anti-Capitalist working-class struggle under the notion that Aboriginal people and other Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) have always been an important part of the working-class in Capitalist states.

As the demonstration came to a close, some protesters began an impromptu march, despite a reported contention between the organising Aboriginal families on the matter. During this march protesters made their way towards Hyde Park and St James station. A 16-year-old male was removed from Hyde Park for throwing a bottle directed at the police, reportedly two women were assaulted by police constables in this confrontation.

From the events of Saturday, it is clear that the Black Lives Matter movement is still in the minds of Australians, and rightly so! White people must not forget the importance of their allyship to the movement and continue protesting, and to continue fighting back against the oppression of those less privileged. The movement is not just a trend and will continue until there is justice and equality for Black lives across the world.

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