Several rallies have been planned for this week in response to the killing of African-American man George Floyd, with many comparing his death at the hands of Minneapolis police to the circumstances of the case of Dunghutti man David Dungay Jr.
Riots erupted across the US following the death of Mr Floyd 6 days ago. He had been going about his business in Minnesota when he was arrested, and an officer knelt on his neck for approximately 9 minutes.
Another officer is seen restraining Mr Floyd, while a further two watched on. He later died in hospital.
The incident was filmed and shared online, where it quickly went viral. In the video, Mr Floyd’s last words were ‘I can’t breathe’.
The manner in which he died bears a striking resemblance to the death in custody of Aboriginal man David Dungay Jr in 2015 at Sydney’s Long Bay prison.
Mr Dungay died after being restrained by guards for refusing to stop eating a packet of biscuits.
His final words as seen on CCTV footage during an inquest into his death were also, “I can’t breathe.”
For almost 5 years, Mr Dungay’s family have called for justice and they are hoping the attention Mr Floyd’s death has been getting will help the Australian public to better understand and help fight for their cause.
“They’ve received big response over there, but we don’t receive the same response in our own backyard and I guess because Australia, the government’s good at hiding things so Aboriginal deaths in custody is not brought into the media light as much as it is in the USA,” Paul Silva, a nephew of Mr Dungay’s told NITV News on Monday.
“Our First Nations people here in Australia are being traumatised the same way as those families in the USA, except there’s no recognition of it. People are obviously not recognising the injustice that’s taking place here.”
Solidarity rallies have been organised for Saturday by Fighting In Solidarity Towards Treaties (FISTT) in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, and Perth, and the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) in Melbourne.
However ,several other rallies for Mr Floyd have been organised by non-Indigenous groups in a move that many Indigenous community leaders say is disrespectful to the ongoing struggles of Aboriginal people.
“I appreciate all of the energy coming from white people, non First Nations people, and non people of colour. It is newfound, it’s revolutionary within itself,” said Brisbane FISTT member Ruby Wharton.
“But what they need to realise and remember is that they have stolen the land from black people so they are no less guilty than America, or police, or any other white institution, white supremacy organisations that uphold those systems.”
Jenny Munro, founder of the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Sydney and a fellow member of FISTT, asked that those attending rallies listen to the Elders, family, and community members of those who have died in custody.
“For all of those rallying this weekend, can they all just be quiet and listen to David’s mum, Leetona Dungay. She’s the one that has to live with this more so than anyone else, and she speaks for her son,” Ms Munro said.
World wide support
Hundreds of Londoners defied coronavirus restrictions and rallied outside the US embassy on Sunday in solidarity with the demonstrations being held across the United States.
The protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Enough is enough” as they marched towards the US embassy compound on the southern bank of the Thames River.
Shouting “Say his name! George Floyd!” they held up “Black Lives Matter” signs outside the embassy building.
Earlier, a few hundred had earlier gathered in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London for a vigil that saw everyone kneel for nine minutes.
When you take someone’s life, the way that happened, then it does something to you wherever you are in the world – because it was totally wrong,” one demonstrator, Trevor Joseph, told AFP.
“It’s a worldwide thing. It happens in America and we have to show solidarity,” he added.
A protest march involving hundreds of demonstrators also took place in the northern English city of Manchester.
Authorities will officially allow groups of up to six to gather in England – and up to eight in Scotland – starting on Monday as more than two months of restrictions begin to ease.
In Germany, thousands rallied outside the US embassy in Berlin, calling for justice for George Floyd.
Protesters held up signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “My skin colour should not be my death sentence.”
A mural depicting George Floyd alongside the words “I can’t breathe” was painted on a remnant section of the Berlin Wall.
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