Melb traffic chaos in 'peaceful' protest

Thousands of protesters rally in Melbourne on May 1, 2015 to call on the government to abandon plans for the closure of up to 150 remote communities.Demonstrators held a peaceful sit-in in the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets. (AAP) Source: AAP

Hundreds of protesters have rallied in Melbourne against the closure of remote Aboriginal communities causing traffic bedlam during peak hour.

One woman was arrested during a peaceful protest in Melbourne against the closure of remote Aboriginal communities.

The 20-year-old Reservoir woman was arrested for assaulting police and is being held in custody.

Despite the arrest, police said they were pleased with the behaviour of protesters despite the traffic chaos which ensued as 500 people took to the streets during peak hour.

Drivers were told to use toll roads in a bid to avoid the crowd as they marched from Flinders Street Station to the Swan Street Bridge and back again.

The Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, who hosted the event, say protests around the country will send a message to the government that they have a right to stay on their homelands.

"We have a right to stay on our homelands. We have a right to practise our culture and we have a responsibility to stand up for our brothers and sisters impacted by racist policies, particularly in WA, SA and NT," their webpage says.

Protesters met on the steps of Flinders Street Station before walking to the bridge where they held a smoking ceremony.

Aboriginal elders read poems and others made speeches while those participating in the rally waved Aboriginal flags and chanted "always was, always will be, our land".

A heavy police presence monitored the crowd and helped divert traffic.

The protest finished before 7pm on Friday, but traffic delays were expected to continue for some time afterward.

Source AAP

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch