Aboriginal activists have declared they will ‘never celebrate Australia Day’ and want to be ‘liberated from this country’ in speeches to more than 1,000 ‘Invasion Day’ protesters in Sydney.
Protesters swarmed into The Domain near the CBD from 9am despite coronavirus restrictions preventing the huge marches of last year and ones before.
Up to 100 police separated participants into two groups of 500, the maximum allowed protest size, with threats to break up the event, issue fines, and make arrests should rules be broken.
Covid marshals asked everyone to sign in to the event with a QR code and to wear masks on arrival, and offered hand sanitiser as throngs continued to arrive before the speeches started.
‘We are advocating so that Australia Day is abolished. We will never celebrate this day,’ Indigenous activist Vanessa Roberts told the swelling crowd in a powerful address.
‘We will achieve liberation in this country, and if it’s not me, it’ll be my grandchildren’.
A protester holds up a sign that reads ‘No pride in Genocide’ at the Invasion Day rally in Sydney’s Domain on January 26
A huge police presence was on hand at the rally as officers watch on to enforce social distancing measures at the gathering
Invasion DAy Protesters wearing face masks prepare to march on January 26, 2021 in Sydney, Australia
A protester hold up a sign that reads ‘We walk on stolen land’ at the Invasion Day rally in Sydney’s Domain on January 26, 2021
Paul Silver, whose Aboriginal nephew David Dungay Jr died while in police custody told the crowd, the government ‘does not give a f**k about us!’
‘For the past five years, our family has been demanding justice and we’ve got f**k all’
‘The injustice and racial discrimination still happens today and it’s happened since the first fleet arrived. It happens on our land’
‘The government doesn’t give a f**k about us, neither does the place. It was all ripped away from us when those 11 boats came here’.
‘The Australian government are still celebrating this day like it’s a birthday or Christmas when our ancestors were killed – how does that make sense?’
Following his speech the group held a minute’s silence remember all Indigenous Australians who have died in custody.
Another speaker declared: ‘Today is triggering, today is traumatic, today is sad. Go home today and love yourself’
‘You are living in a coronavirus bubble where you are being told what to do. This is our world’
‘I want everyone here to go on social media, talk to everyone, your bus driver, your Uber driver, a post office worker, educate them. Tell them decolonisation is coming.’
A protester is pictured speaking with a police officer at the the Invasion Day rally in Sydney’s Domain on January 26
Protesters wearing face masks prepare to march on January 26, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Australia Day
Protesters hold up a large Aboriginal flag at the Invasion Day rally in Sydney’s domain on January 26, 2021
A protester is pictured wearing a face mask decorated with tradition Aboriginal art at the Invasion Day rally in Sydney
Organisers of the protest in the Domain made a last-ditch effort to lobby the state government and raise the limit on public gatherings from 500 under Covid restriction to 3,000.
Aboriginal Legal Service made an application to the Supreme Court to get the cap raised but the request was not granted.
The group are demonstrating against Australia’s Day celebrations and the plight Indigenous communities have faced at the hands of colonial settlers.
Officers could be seen discussing and planning how to separate the crowd in order to stay in-line with Covid restrictions.
Rally organisers are requiring all demonstrators to sign in with QR code and are also providing face masks, hand sanitiser and enforcing social distancing.
Covid Marshalls are guarding the entry points where protesters are funnelling in.
But with twice the capacity legally allowed already on scene, organisers, Covid marshalls and police have split the demonstrators up into two groups of 500.
Protesters could be heard chanting ‘Stop black deaths in custody’ and ‘black lives matter’. Pictured: a protester hold up a Black lives matter sign
‘Please spread out, we don’t want police to ruin our day,’ event organisers shouted at the group. Pictured: Police patrol the area
A protester holding a flag stands in front of New South Wales police officers as he prepares to march on January 26, 2021 in Sydney, Australia
Indigenous performers play the didgeridoo during a smoking ceremony as part of the WugulOra Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo Reserve during Australia Day in Sydney, Tuesday, January 26, 2021
‘Please spread out, we don’t want police to ruin our day,’ event organisers shouted at the group.
Protesters could be heard chanting ‘Always was, always will be aboriginal land’ and ‘No justice no peace no racist police’.
Scott Morrison spoke to Sydney radio earlier this morning where he discussed the contribution Indigenous Australians have made to the nation.
‘One of the greatest overcomers of all of our people has been our First Nations people that have had to overcome this position and they’ve had to overcome colonisation, they are a thriving surviving community,’ the Prime Minister told 2GB.
‘The world’s oldest living culture. Now I think this story of overcoming is one of, if not the greatest, Australian stories.
‘It is one that we can all combine together and acknowledge that whether it’s our first nations people, or the convicts, or the settlers that came or many that have since come and made us the most successful immigration country in the world.’
Protesters could be heard chanting ‘Always was, always will be aboriginal land’ and ‘No justice no peace no racist police’
Over 1000 demonstrators have arrived in the Domain for the Invasion Day protests. Due to Covid rules the groups have been split up into two groups of 500
Rally organisers are requiring all demonstrators to sign in with QR code and are also providing face masks, hand sanitiser and enforcing social distancing
On Australia Day in 1938, indigenous activist Jack Patten organised ‘Day of Mourning’ on January 26.
His great great granddaughter is Kyah Patten, told the crowd she’s continuing the fight that he started.
‘What is Australia Day? What the f**k is Australia?…Australia is built on blood,’ she said.
‘I stand here with my first held high.
‘It’s time to make change, open your f**king eyes and your f**king ears’