Thousands gather in Byron Bay for Black Lives Matter protest
MORE than 3000 protesters gathered in Byron Bay's recreational grounds today to demand justice for the 432 Indigenous Australians who have died in police custody since 1991.
The protest was one of many held throughout Australia and the world, following the death of US man George Floyd last week. Floyd was filmed saying "I can't breathe" as officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Members of the Bunyarra Culture Collective opened the event with several heartfelt speeches, including a message from the family of David Dungay Jr. Like Floyd, the Dunghutti man yelled 'I can't breathe' 12 times before he died while being restrained by five guards in a Sydney prison.
Not one of the officers involved in the 26-year-olds death were disciplined or called to account.
"Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd. We feel your pain," the message read.
"Watching the video of George being murdered has been very painful for our family. David Dungay Jr, our Dunghutti warrior, was killed in exactly the same way."
"It is a story that is familiar for many black and first nations families across the world and right here in Australia."
"The killing must stop now."
The march was originally set to take the protesters from the recreational grounds to the Police Station, however, the enormous turnout forced organisers to redirect attendees onto Main Beach.
Many held signs and Aboriginal flags as they marched down Jonson Street, collectively chanting "I can't breathe."
Once at the beach, attendees got down on one knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silent protest - the amount of time that George Floyd was held to the ground as he begged for his life.
Many protesters are wearing face masks but others were gathered closely together, despite concerns the mass gathering could increase the spread of COVID-19.