Gillard's shoe returned after protest


Indigenous protests have entered their second day, as the PM's shoe is returned following a scuffle that's sparked anger among activists and politicians alike.

Australia Day indigenous protest have entered their second day, making headlines around the world.

Protesters marched from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy to demand rights for people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island descent, and some burned the Australian flag in front of Parliament House.

Demonstrations turned ugly yesterday when some activists trapped Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott inside a building.

Pictures of Julia Gillard stumbling and being bundled into a car by security staff drew condemnation from some Aboriginal leaders.

"I think they were pretty appalling pictures," said Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda.

"We have a strong democracy in Australia, we have a strong freedom of speech, you have the opportunity to protest and get your message across, which they could have done in a peaceful way. They chose to use violence and that is unacceptable," said former ALP president Warren Mundine.

But the protesters vehemenlty denied that they had initiated the violence.

"The Australian Federal Police came at us with force, and we did not retaliate with force. We did not instigate any wrongdoing or violence," said Cunanurra elder Selina Davey-Newrey.

The police refuted that version of the events.

"I'm not aware of any formal complaints being made against the AFP for its behaviour or the behaviour of its officers, nor am I aware of any injuries being sustained yesterday," said AFP Assistant Commissioner Michael Outrim.

The PM had only praise for the police.
"I think the police did an extraordinary job. I think they did a great job under very difficult circumstances," she said.

The police are now investigating the incident.

The Greens have blamed remarks made by Tony Abbott for fuelling the anger, but Mr Abbott denies calling for the tent embassy to be torn down.

"At least some of the protest leaders now accept that they had grievously misinterpreted what I said," Mr Abbott said.

In a ceremonial gesture, protesters handed back the shoe lost by the PM during yesterday's scuffle.

It had been on online auction site eBay, before being taken down.

There are still a few hundred people at the Tent Embassy, and they are demanding a discussion on the sovereignty of indigenous people in Australia.

Source: SBS

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