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Brisbane rally shines a light on injustices in Australia with first Nations people

Taking a stand: A crowd of up to 30,000 that packed inner city Brisbane on June 6, to protest police brutality against Indigenous Australians. Photo: Jessica Laidler

A BRISBANE Catholic indigenous leader has described the Black Lives Matter rallies as “a wonderful experience of humanity”.

Cynthia Rowan was among the crowd of up to 30,000 that packed inner city Brisbane on June 6, to protest police brutality against Indigenous Australians and call for justice for those who have died in custody.

“We call ourselves Australian and we should be supporting one another,” she said.

“To be part of a worldwide movement to say No More – stopping the colonial mentality of seeing people as ‘less than’ because of the colour of their skin, or because of their accent, or whatever.”

The rally spilled from King George Square to neighbouring blocks, calling for reform in Queensland and across the globe.

“It has shone a light on the injustices here in Australia with first Nations people – the incarceration rates, the 400 plus deaths in custody,” Evangelisation Brisbane’s Jessica Laidler said.

Ms Laidler attended with family and friends.

She is the Archdiocese of Brisbane’s Multicultural Projects and Research Officer.

“We have so far to go. We have to keep the momentum going on this issue,” she said.

The Brisbane rally was one of many across the world sharing public outrage following the death of African American man George Floyd while being arrested in Minneapolis, USA.

Indigenous elders and traditional owners detailed police brutality against members of their own families.

The crowd was peaceful, but sheer numbers made it impossible to maintain social distancing. Police were seen handing out face masks and hand sanitiser.

“We put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and what they want first,” Peter Arndt, executive officer for the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane, said.

“They ask us to take the necessary precautions which is what we did. Black lives do actually matter.”

Ms Rowan said it was heartwarming to see families at the rally.

“I spoke to one family – mum and dad and three children – who travelled on a train for two hours to attend the event,” she said.

“We weren’t just walking alone. We were with different people in other parts of Australia and around the world.”

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