A vigil was held in Brisbane’s Musgrave Park on Wednesday night, with 433 candles spelling, ‘I CANT BREATHE’, commemorating the 432 Indigenous lives lost since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
The final candle was lit for George Floyd, who died from asphyxiation after he sustained pressure to his neck and back during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25.
One of the organisers for the vigil, Kooma and Gamilaraay man, Bo Spearim, told NITV News that the vigil was a “correlation” and “connection” to black deaths in custody and police brutality.
“I think at a precedent level, black people, darker skin people are getting murdered at higher rates and there’s no justice, I think that's the correlation and the connection that we need to make,” said Mr Spearim.
“Aboriginal people, black people, Indigenous people, we’ve made that connection.
“People need to be angry that there's no justice, and people need to be out on the streets with us and say, ‘what can we do till you get justice’.
“You know, we just saw a couple days ago, I think it was Surry Hills in Sydney, a boy getting slammed to the ground and then getting a police officer’s knee in his back.”
Musgrave Park, the location of the vigil, is a significant place to Indigenous people in Queensland, due to a past restriction barring them from crossing the park and entering the city of Brisbane.
The park has been a place of gathering and organising for Aboriginal people for decades.
Kooma and Gamilaraay woman, Ruby Wharton, reminded NITV News that Musgrave Park was also the location of a death in custody of an Aboriginal man in 1993.
20-year-old Daniel Yock, died after being pursued by police. Witnesses who saw the incident claimed a female police officer allegedly “kicked him in the head saying, ‘staying down’”, before he was put in a police wagon.
“Brother Daniel Yock, yes, it was a bit before my time and I can’t speak too much on it, but, it’s in living memory and it’s a part of the Brisbane Blacks identity,” said Ms Wharton.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been gathering here for sad things of grief and misery, but all the things that have come out of that have been light, have been hope, have been strength and we’ve seen many great things come from conversations right here.”
Mr Spearim said the vigil was to “honour Aboriginal folks in Australia”, as well as honouring “black folks in the states”, and said he was involved in the planning of a Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday.