Adelaide exceeds expectations at #BLM protest in Tarndanyangga
Adelaide showed an impressive amount of passion and solidarity at Saturday’s Black Lives Matter rally in Tarndanyangga/Victoria Square, with more than 5000 people coming together to protest against racism, police brutality and Indigenous deaths in custody.
As the news of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police has caused an eruption of protests across the United States, Australians have been forced to reflect on our own bloody history of brutality and systemic racism. At the forefront of the discussion has been the 432 death toll of Indigenous people in custody since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, with zero convictions for the deaths.
Lead by activist group SOS Blak Australia and The Adelaide Campaign Against Racism and Facism, the event went smoothly and safely, with speeches from a number of guest speakers, including Indigenous Elders and representatives from Adelaide’s African and Muslim communities. One such speaker was organiser Natasha Wanganeen, who made reference to a news story from the 80’s, about mining magnate Lang Hancock who professed that a solution must be made for the so called ‘Aboriginal problem’.
“The solution was to put poison in our water! So eventually, our men would become sterile, and we would breed ourselves out. That was the year I was born. I almost didn’t make it, and thank the ancestors I did!” Said Wanganeen, as the crowd bursted with shouts of “Shame! Shame!”
Despite concerns – and an abundance of social media debate – over the potential spread of Covid 19, Adelaide’s rally was given an exemption from current restrictions and people flocked in numbers, many making conscious efforts to stay safe. While social distancing wasn’t much of an option, people donned face masks and a number of volunteers were handing out masks and hand sanitiser. One such volunteer was Porsche Harbin, Adelaide resident and Butchulla woman from K’Gari (Fraser Island).
“Its lovely to see people coming together to support Indigenous people”, said Harbin. “We have been protesting passionately and proudly for years and finally we are being heard, 432 deaths in custody is our national shame”.
Plans for another rally were scheduled for this Saturday, which wasn’t approved for a Covid 19 exemption, with Police Commissioner Grant Stevens saying it would “make a mockery” of the restrictions. This news has come as a disappointment for many, as the AFL Showdown game has been approved to contain 2000 people on Saturday night.
While we usually report on entertainment style events (concerts, Fringe shows etc.) and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to give this event a ‘rating’ per se, I would still like to give one for the sake of it. This was possibly one of the best protests Adelaide has ever produced, with huge numbers and the largest display of unity we have seen in recent times. It was a day of spreading love, with all attendees being courteous and considerate of each other. While Australia’s history of racism can really bruise our homeland pride, I felt proud of Adelaide’s efforts to support those who have been victims of injustice. For this reason I am giving it a 10/10. Would attend again… and again.
Words by Christie Thompson