A bottle was hurled at police sparking a tense standoff as hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters refused to leave Sydney’s Hyde Park on Sunday.
More than 1000 people defied public health coronavirus restrictions to protest at the unauthorised rally.
It started peacefully with the crowd spread out on the grass at The Domain to hear speeches and take part in an Aboriginal smoking ceremony.
Pictured: a protester at The Domain on Sunday. The protest was not authorised because of concerns over holding mass gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, however the event was largely peaceful and police are not fining anyone for breaching the rules
The mood turned ugly however after the crowd marched from the Domain to Hyde Park.
Police issued ‘a COVID direction to disperse’ at Hyde Park but protesters ignored them.
A 16-year-old youth in a red T-shirt was removed from Hyde Park after he allegedly hurled an empty soft-drink bottle at police.
The crowd, some with their facemasks dangling under their chins, screamed and chanted ‘let him go’ as police led him away to waiting police van.
The mood turned tense at Hyde Park after police removed a 16-year-old youth for allegedly flinging an empty soft-drink bottle at them
Pictured: police gathered during the tense stand-off as the youth was taken to the Day Street Police Station to be officially cautioned. The crowds chanted ‘let him go’
A Communist Party of Australia banner accusing Australia of genocide in Sydney on Sunday. Indigenous people make up 28 percent of the prison population but only 22 percent of deaths
Pictured: a protester at The Domain. Black Lives Matter believes police are to blame for black deaths. Australian Institute of Crime statistics show indigenous people are less likely to die in police custody than non-indigenous people.
A tense stand-off ensued with protesters shouting at police and banging on a bongo drum as an officer warned them through a megaphone they were breaching public health guidelines in an unauthorised assembly.
The youth was taken to Day Street Police Station where he was given an official caution under the Young Offenders Act, NSW Police said on Sunday.
The teen was one of two people removed from the protest.
The other was a 48-year-old man taken from The Domain after fellow protesters complained about him after he allegedly antagonised a man wearing an Aboriginal flag.
While some members of the crowd left after the event in the Domain and the gathering at Hyde Park, others continued to march along George Street, chanting ‘too many coppers, not enough justice’.
Protesters wave an Aboriginal flag at the peaceful gathering in the Domain while wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts. Black Lives Matter is a US movement that seeks to abolish police
More than 1000 people gathered peacefully in The Domain, Sydney and largely kept to social distancing at the unauthorised gathering
The crowd marched to City Road near Sydney University, where they moved into Victoria Park about 5.10pm, police said.
Police continued to monitor the group until they finally dispersed about 5.30pm.
The standoff was an ugly end to a previously calm gathering at the Domain where activists generally kept to social distancing rules as they highlighted the 434 Indigenous Australians who have died in custody since 1991.
The protest was part of a national campaign that began on Friday.
An Aboriginal smoking ceremony was held in The Domain, Sydney, on Sunday
Crowds show some people not wearing facemasks properly and not social distancing during the smoking ceremony at The Domain on Sunday
Protesters at The Domain. The extreme Black Lives Matter protest movement calls for police to be defunded. The ACAB acronym stands for ‘All Cops Are B**tards’. Not all indigenous people agree. Some want help to combat high levels of domestic violence in remote communities
Protesters gathered in Darwin, Brisbane and Perth on Saturday while other gatherings were held in Kempsey and Adelaide.
On Sunday hundreds more protesters gathered in Newcastle for an event which, unlike the Sydney protest, was authorised.
Black Lives Matter has a key goal internationally of defunding the police, the movement says on its US website.
Protesters in Australia also want to reduce police funding and redirect the money to social work and community health and welfare services.
The protesters want to shut youth prisons and implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
In keeping with the Royal Commissions recommendations, the Australian Institute of Criminology runs a National Deaths in Custody Program to keep track of deaths in custody statistics.
According to the Australian Institute of Criminology’s 2020 report ‘Deaths in custody in Australia 2017-18, of 21 deaths in police custody in 2017-18, three were Indigenous.
Protesters at the peaceful Domain gathering before the ugliness began at Hyde Park
The report said Indigenous people made up 28 percent of the prison population but only 22 percent of the deaths in prison custody.
‘The death rate of Indigenous prisoners was lower than the death rate for non-Indigenous prisoners,’ the report said.
Of the 16 Indigenous deaths in prison custody for 2017-18, 11 died of natural causes while three were self-inflicted (two hanging, one drugs/alcohol), and two were unspecified.
Protesters sitting in The Domain listening to speeches in Sydney on Sunday
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the year to June 2018, Aboriginal people made up 28 per cent or just over a quarter of Australia’s prison population.
The most common charge for which Aboriginal people were in custody was ‘Acts intended to cause injury’ (34 percent) followed by unlawful entry with intent (14 percent).
Not all indigenous people support the protests, with Aboriginal activist Jacinta Nampijinpa Price saying the biggest threat to Aboriginal lives comes from domestic violence in remote Indigenous communities.
New South Wales recorded 14 new coronavirus cases on Sunday bringing the state’s total to 3419.
ANU Professor Sanjaya Senanayake told Daily Mail Australia last Monday that although the risk of transmission outdoors was less than indoors, protests were still not a good idea at the moment.
‘People can find new ways of showing solidarity with a cause they care about instead of attending mass rallies,’ he said.
Australian Institute of Criminology table showing indigenous and non-indigenous deaths in police custody (excluding prisons) stretching back to 1989, from their 2020 statistical report