Image description: A smiling young man wearing a surgical mask holds a cardboard sign above his head. The sign features an Aboriginal flag, and includes the text ‘NO Justice / NO Peace’. He is with a group of six other men, who appear jovial, among a large crowd. Image by Bayley Horne. 

 

Words by Lachlan Hardman

 

Thousands of people gathered in Perth’s Langley Park on Saturday afternoon in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. It was the third in a series of protests over the last fortnight calling to attention systemic racism, police violence, and discrimination against Aboriginal people in Australia.

 

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Image description: Many people hold up a large white banner with black painted text. It reads ‘STOP DEATHS / IN CUSTODY’. Image by Christine Chen. 

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Image description: Three protesters holds up signs and face away from the camera. The middle sign says ‘SILENCE / IS / VIOLENCE’. The signs on either side are the same; they say ‘BLACK / LIVES / MATTER’ against the background of an Aboriginal flag. Image by Stirling Kain.

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Image description: The photo is taken from a high perspective. A thick crowd of people walk down the middle of a Perth city street, where cars normally drive. Many hold signs, and umbrellas. Image by Bayley Horne. 

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Image description: In a crowd of people, a woman looks past the camera and towards the stage. She has her arm raised in the air, and hand in a fist. In the background, a sign which says ‘YOUR BADGE IS / NOT A LICENSE / TO KILL’, is visible. Image by Christine Chen.

 

The protests are part of a global movement against racial violence that has emerged following the death of an African-American man, George Floyd, at the hands of police in Minneapolis last month.

 

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Image description: Three police officers are walking towards the left, against a wall, and within a crowd. They all wear surgical masks, and the police officer at the back looks at the camera. Image by Christine Chen.

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Image description: A woman holds a sign above her head and faces the camera, smiling. The sign reads ‘Colour / Is Not / A Crime’. Next to her is a young man wearing a surgical mask, also facing the camera. Image by Stirling Kain

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Image description: Two people face to the left of the camera, and hold cardboard signs. The person on the right, wearing sunglasses, holds a sign which reads ‘JUSTICE FOR’ and small print which is not readable. Underneath is ‘# Black Lives Matter’. The person on the right, in a hoodie, holds a sign which reads ‘#Black / Lives / Matter!’. Image by Bayley Horne.

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Image description: A thick crowd of people walks down a city street, where cars would normally drive. Most wear face masks, and hold signs. City buildings are visible in the background. Image by Christine Chen.

 

Tens of thousands have marched in London, Berlin, Jakarta, Nairobi, and cities in over fifty countries, calling to attention the racial injustice and discrimination which exists not only in the United States, but in their own countries as well.

 

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Image description: A woman faces the stage and away from the camera. The edge of her sign is visible to the camera, and reads ‘I cant [sic] / breathe [sic]’ in black print. Image by Stirling Kain. 

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Image description: In a crowd, someone holds a sign above their head which reads ‘F*CK / SCOMO’. The sign features a photograph of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with devil horns drawn on his head. Image by Christine Chen.

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Image description: A young girl – wearing an Akubra with a red, yellow and black band on it – is sitting on a man’s shoulders. She and the man face away from the camera, but the girl’s head is looking towards the bottom left. Image by Stirling Kain.

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Image description: Three people are facing the camera, and the all hold a large Aboriginal flag. On the yellow centre of the flag reads the words ‘Always / was / Always / will be…’. The man on the right holds a sign which reads ‘Scotty from Marketing / Failed History! / Enslaved People Built / This Morally Corrupt / “Nation” / *BLM’. Image by Bayley Horne.

 

It is of little surprise that the protests have spread to Australia. Institutionalised racism, inequality, and police violence are issues which have been despairingly central to the experience of being an Aboriginal Australian throughout this country’s colonial history. Since 1991, the Aboriginal community has been the most incarcerated demographic in the world. Aboriginal Australians, on average, continue to face massive socio-economic inequalities in education, lifespan, heath, and opportunity compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts.

 

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Image description: A woman – with her surgical mask pulled under her chin, and in a thick crowd – holds a sign above her head. The sign is facing away from the camera, the words only visible from the back. She appears stalwart and serious. Image by Christine Chen. 

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Image description: The backs of people are visible in a crowd, and two people hold up signs which are facing the camera. The sign on the right says ‘Always was / always will be / Aboriginal land’. The one on the left says ‘soverenty [sic] / never / ceded’. Image by Bayley Horne.

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Image description: A man faced the camera with a solemn expression and holds a sign. The sign reads ‘TJ Hickeys / 15 February 2004 / 17 year [sic] old / shame / shame / shame / MURDER BY / POLICE REDFERN’. Image by Stirling Kain.

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Image description: A woman faces the camera but her gaze looks past it. She holds a sign straight above her head. It reads ‘BLACK LIVES / MATTER / NO JUSTICE / NO PEACE’ in black, red and white paint. The sign also features a black fist, and an Aboriginal flag. Image by Christine Chen.

 

It was a somewhat eerie experience, standing on the grass at Langley Park, surrounded by the skyscrapers of mining companies and big businesses, whose success has depended so largely on the exploitation and dispossession of Aboriginal people and their land. Speakers shared their stories of institutionalised racism, and spoke about family members who had died in police custody. They painfully retold the suffering and hardship that comes from experiencing, firsthand, the consequences of systemic racial discrimination.

 

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Image description: Two young women wearing surgical masks look at the camera and hold signs. The sign on the left says ‘No justice / No peace’ in black, yellow and red paint. The sign on the right says ‘Ngarrindjeri Warrior’ and features Indigenous symbols and patterns painted in yellow, red, black and white. Image by Stirling Kain.

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Image description: Ten police officers stand on a street next to Langley Park. They all wear surgical masks. Image by Christine Chen.

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Image description: A young man, wearing a red jacket and face mask, looks at the camera, and holds an Aboriginal flag on a long pole. He stands in a crowd of people with protest signs. Image by Bayley Horne. 

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Image description: Three people hold up one sign each. The first sign on the left says ‘FUCK’, the second ‘THE’, and the one on the far right, ‘SYSTEM’. Image by Stirling Kain.

 

But the atmosphere at the rally was also overwhelmingly one of solidarity and hope. Elders sung songs, and called on the young people to rise up and create a better world.

 

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Image description: A large crowd of people, mostly wearing black, hold signs. Some of the signs say ‘Sorry / Means You Don’t / Do it Again!!!’, and ‘REPARATION / IS NOT A / DIRTY WORD / PAY THE RENT’. The people holding these two signs have their surgical masks pulled over the chins, and are shouting. Image by Christine Chen.

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Image description: In a crowd of people, a man wearing a yellow high-vis jacket holds his arm in the air. His hand is in a fist. Image by Stirling Kain.

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Image description: In a crowd, three young women stand closely together, huddled under an umbrella, as the rain pelts down. Image by Christine Chen.

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Image description: The stage at the protest. Over a sea of peoples’ heads, an Aboriginal woman stands at a lectern and speaks into the microphone. On her left is an AUSLAN interpreter, and on either side are Indigenous leaders and family. The stage is covered in red, black and yellow signs, which say things like ‘Black Lives Matter’. Image by Stirling Kain.

 

Despite the rain and concerns over COVID-19, the sea of Western Australians peacefully chanting “Black Lives Matter” shows that, hopefully, change has already begun.

 

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Image description: A young woman wearing a surgical mask faces the camera, and appears stalwart and proud. She holds a sign above her heard which reads ‘NO Justice / NO Peace’ next to a red and orange fist, and sketched side-portrait. Image by Christine Chen.

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Image description: A young man, with a black bandana covering his mouth, faces the camera and looks solemn. He holds an Aboriginal flag, and a sign which reads ‘Over 400… / JUSTICE / NOW’. On the right is a woman facing away from the camera, shoulder-to-shoulder with the man, and draping an Aboriginal flag around her back. Image by Stirling Kain.

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Image description: In a sea of people, an Aboriginal flag flies on a pole held by a protestor. In the background, buildings of Perth city are visible. Image by Stirling Kain.