• A record crowd of around 6000 people gathered in Adelaide in solidarity with the international Black Lives Matter movement. | Pic. Royce Kurmelovs (NITV News)Source: NITV News
A record crowd turns out in Adelaide to shut down city centre for three hours in solidarity with the Aboriginal Lives Matter and international Black Lives Matter movements.
Royce Kurmelovs

7 Jun 2020 - 2:38 AM  UPDATED 7 Jun 2020 - 2:38 AM

Thousands turned out in Adelaide on Saturday to rally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and demand an end to the death of Aboriginal people in custody.

People began to gather steadily from 11am in Tarndanyangga (Victoria Square) until an estimated crowd of 6000 effectively shut down the centre of the CBD for three hours.

The rally was led by the local Kaurna people and organised by Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance. Both the organisers and police said they were surprised by the size of the crowd.

As in the eastern states, the Adelaide rally had a focus on the high rate of Aboriginal deaths in custody and the high level of Indigenous incarceration.

Speaking before the rally, protest organiser Janette Millera told NITV News the global protest movement marked a moment where racial justice seemed possible.

“The system needs to be dismantled and built up again to include Aboriginal people in any and every document," Ms Millera said.

“Aboriginal voices need to be in every document, every policy, every piece of legislation. We need more voices in parliament, we need more Aboriginal people writing policy and legislation for Aboriginal people.

“We need more Aboriginal cultural stories on the ground. We need our money back in our community, so we can run our services for own mob, so we can do our own healing.”

Kaurna man Jack Buckskin welcomed the crowd to the demonstration.

“Today we stand united,” he said. “Our movement happens with people. We want people to walk alongside us. This is what Aboriginal people have been asking for.”

Even with thousands in attendance, silence often fell across the CBD as the crowd listened to speakers, all of whom were people of colour and included representatives from Adelaide's African and African American migrant communities.

Among those who spoke were the family of 29-year-old Wiradjuri, Kookatha and Wirangu man Wayne Fella Morrison, who died in custody in September 2016 while being held on remand at the Yatala Labour Prison.

Ella Morrison, greeted by the crowd with chants of “Black Lives Matter”, retold what happened to her brother, declaring “enough was enough”.

“We didn’t ask to be up here,” she said.

“We hold space particularly for the family and spirit of George Floyd, whose death has been triggering and re-traumatising for us, as hardly a distant memory for how our own brother was killed.

“Our brother was killed in the custody by South Australian Corrections in ways that of the death of George Floyd and Turtle Island in America.

“While we cannot state here today, as our coronial inquest is ongoing, that our brother was murdered, the events leading to his death were the result of the actions of numerous corrections officers.”

After the speakers, the rally marched the length of King William Street.

With so many people in attendance, the demonstration formed its own honour guard for the protest leaders. At its close, the rally finished with a dance party at Tarndanyangga.

SAPOL Assistant Commissioner Peter Harvey said the gathering was the largest he had seen in his 40 year career.

When asked about charges of police brutality in SA as raised at the rally, Mr Harvey said he welcomed public comment and criticism.

“There were people of all race and creed here today, including people I know. Including off duty police officers. My neighbours were here. This is a community focus, a community response.

“My comment is: thank you. Thank you for keeping the focus on the right topics, we listen. The government listens. We’re not adverse to criticism. We accept criticism. We will always try to do better.”

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