• (NITV News)
A group of Indigenous protesters have formed a roadblock on the route of the Queen’s baton relay, delaying the event for around an hour.
Ella Archibald-Binge

4 Apr 2018 - 2:52 PM  UPDATED 10 Jul 2018 - 2:33 PM

The group of around 50 people formed the blockade on Seaworld Drive next to Doug Jennings Park, where a protest camp has been set up for the duration of the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast.

Several busloads of runners were forced to wait for around an hour as activists refused to budge. The group eventually agreed to move after negotiators arranged for the relay to bypass the area next to the camp.

Uncle Wayne ‘Coco’ Wharton, a key organiser of the protests, hailed the action as a victory.

He says various protests will be held over the next fortnight in a bid to educate the public about the plight of First Nations people and to pay homage to those who took part in the landmark 1982 Commonwealth Games protests in Brisbane.

“It’s like anything we’ve got to do in the Aboriginal struggle, is that we’ve got to take any opportunity that we’ve been given to be able to voice our opinion and get our message out to the rest of the world,” the Kooma man told NITV News.

“The objective of Aboriginal people has always been to be free people in our own land.”

Uncle Coco says protesters are advocating for a truth commission to acknowledge the sovereignty of Australia’s First Peoples.

“Once that’s done, then you can start talking about reconciliation, but until that’s done [reconciliation] is nothing more than another rolled out version of terra nullius,” he said.

Upon hearing that a young man with a disability was among those originally scheduled to run the delayed section of the relay, two young protestors – Ruby Wharton and Dylan Voller – gifted the wheelchair-user with a hand-woven bracelet as a gesture of apology and appreciation.

Ms Wharton, whose grandmother was a key organiser at the 1982 protests, said she hoped the protests would be a gateway for people to learn about the issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“I just want them to take away that they don’t actually know what’s actually happening in this world,” she told NITV News.

“They’re not engaging, they can’t know what we feel, they can’t know how we live, they don’t see it on a daily basis - they’re not confronted with it.

“We just want to open that possibility, that doorway to education.”

Further protests are planned at tonight’s opening ceremony. 

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