The murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis has triggered a shockwave of public outcry around the world. People are angry—not just in light of the incident itself, but also the fact that this act of homicide is just the latest in a long history of police brutality and systemic, racially-charged violence in America.
Protests began in Minneapolis last week, quickly spreading to more than 100 cities in the US including New York, Denver and Los Angeles. The movement has since gone global. Around the world, in places like London, Toronto, Berlin, and Tokyo, people are taking to the streets to call for justice, condemn police brutality and denounce racism at large.
In Australia, the movement carries particular weight. Outcry over the senseless violence that police continue to inflict on racial minorities in America has highlighted Australia’s own shameful history of mistreating and oppressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities.
Here are some facts: Indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated people on earth. Despite making up just 2 percent of the country’s population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders currently comprise about 27 percent of Australia’s prison population. Indigenous men are 15 times more likely and Indigenous women 21 times more likely to be in custody than their non-Indigenous counterparts. And while in custody, they are repeatedly subjected to acts of extreme systemic violence.
Since the Australian Government published the results of a Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991, 426 Indigenous Australians have died in state custody or at the hands of law enforcement, according to data from Amnesty International: a rate of 14 deaths per year, or more than one death per month. In almost thirty years, these deaths have led to zero convictions.
George Floyd’s murder has fuelled the fires of activism, both globally and locally, and energised a growing number of people to start advocating for justice for Australia’s First Nations peoples. These are issues that take their root in deeply entrenched, systemic violence—but there are practical things you can do to make your voice heard and support those that need it.
Here is a list of ways to donate, protest, and educate yourself in support of the George Floyd protestors and the Indigenous Australians who still exist under the weight of oppression in Australia. It's by no means a comprehensive list, but it is somewhere to start.
Public demonstrations and solidarity rallies have already started to take place in Australia, protesting against the death of George Floyd while also drawing attention to Indigenous deaths in custody. A Black Lives Matter protest took place in Perth last night, while more are scheduled for other Australian cities this coming weekend.
The following events are all happening this Saturday, on June 6. In Sydney, a vigil for George Floyd will commence at 3PM in Chippendale. In Melbourne, a solidarity protest will commence at 2PM on the steps of Parliament House. In Brisbane, a protest will commence at 1PM in King George Square. In Newcastle, a rally will commence at 2PM in Civic Park.
These rallies, organised by the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance and the Fighting In Solidarity Towards Treaties groups, aim to recognise the common injustices shared by African Americans and Indigenous Australians. Organisers implore people to join the protests in solidarity with the cause and let their voices be heard.
There are a number of fundraisers and organisations you can put your money behind to provide financial support for the victims of police brutality, as well as the demonstrators who are putting themselves on the frontlines of the increasingly violent protests. Many of these have been set up in the week since George Floyd’s death, including dozens of bail funds that aim to help those who have been arrested in the course of the protests (see here). To support the anti-racism movement in other ways, make a donation to Black Lives Matter: an organisation founded on the mission of intervening in violence inflicted on black communities.
In light of George Floyd’s murder, Black Lives Matter is demanding “acknowledgment and accountability for the devaluation and dehumanization of Black life at the hands of the police” and calling for “radical, sustainable solutions that affirm the prosperity of Black lives.” You can donate to them here.
Locally, there are also a number of Australian fundraisers and organisations that are raising money for the purposes of addressing systemic inequality and violence against Indigenous Australians. The Justice for David Dungay Junior fund was set up to fight for justice in the case of David Dungay Junior, who died in custody in December 2015. The Sisters Inside bail fund focuses on Aboriginal women in custody: paying fines for those who can’t, freeing women from prison, and having warrants vacated so they aren’t imprisoned in the first place.
You can also donate to the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, which aims to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the criminal justice system.
Further to these, there are many other charities that are working hard to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, including:
Aboriginal Family Violence and Legal Service AIME Mentoring Black Rainbow Bush Mob Aboriginal Corporation Family Violence Prevention Legal Service First Nations Telegraph First Nations Deaths in Custody Watch Committee First Nations Workers Alliance Grandmothers Against Removals Gunawirra Hey Sis, we’ve got your back Indigenous Literacy Foundation IndigenousX SEED Sisters Inside SOS BLAK AUSTRALIA The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council Wunan WAR: Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance Yirra Yaakin
Pay the rent
Australians live, work and play on land that was forcibly taken from Aboriginal people. Sovereignty was never ceded, and the effects of colonisation on First Nations peoples continue today.
Effectively addressing the huge, systemic inequalities and injustices that oppress Indigenous Australians on a daily basis will require significant, meaningful change on a mass scale. But perhaps the first step in showing your solidarity with Australia’s First Nations People is to offset some of that inequality by paying a regular amount to the traditional owners of the country. You can do that here.