Thousands rally in Australia against racism defying public health rules

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Australians gathered on Saturday in solidarity with American protesters angered by the death of a black man in police custody after local authorities lifted the ban on rallies under the country’s social distancing rules.

Protesters parade through Parliament during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Canberra, Australia, June 5, 2020 in this photo from a video on social media. IAN MCKAY / via REUTERS

A last-minute appeal to the New South Wales Court of Appeal led to a rally in Sydney, where several thousand people marched through a heavy police presence, chanting, “Who owns the lives? Black lives count. “

Inspired by the death of George Floyd – who died in Minneapolis after a white policeman knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes – the Australians also called for an end to police ill-treatment of indigenous Australians.

The protests arose despite the authorities’ urgent calls to stay at home and to respect the rules of social distancing imposed to fight against the spread of the coronavirus. These only allow small groups to gather outside.

After the court ruling, New South Wales police urged people via Twitter to “keep a safe physical distance”, saying they were there to “facilitate” people’s movements.

Prominent Democratic politicians in the United States on Friday adopted slogans of nationwide protests and announced reforms as tensions remained high in big cities after days of largely peaceful protests that saw sporadic violence .

More than 10,000 people have gathered in Brisbane, police estimate, with many protesters wrapped in native flags.

Many protesters wore black masks with handwritten inscriptions “I can’t breathe” – Floyd’s last words, which became a rallying cry worldwide for the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

In Melbourne, more than 5,000 people gathered, where organizers read a long list of names of Indigenous Australians killed by police or dead in police custody.

“We don’t want anything that will take our message away from Black Lives Matter,” Sue Ann Hunter, a member of the Wurundjeri Indigenous Nation, told ABC News.

Report by Lidia Kelly; Editing by William Mallard

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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