A GRAMMY award-winning band have cancelled an appearance on Sunrise the night before they were due to perform on the show following the racism controversy around the program.

American rockers Portugal. The Man, best known for smash hit Feel It Still, said in a statement shared on Instagram: "We do not want to be part of that show at this time."

Referring to a controversial segment on Aboriginal families aired by Sunrise in March, the band continued: "We come from rural Alaska and hold very close to our hearts the Indigenous people of our home.

"While we are by no means experts in your countries [sic] history we know there are problems that, like ours, are yet to be resolved and only being amplified by the recent statements on Sunrise."

The band, who are in Australia for an appearance at Groovin the Moo festival, said they would be welcomed to the stage in Sydney last night by Uncle Steve Madden, a Gadigal man from the Eora nation. The Gadigal people were the original owners of the land where they played.

 

Their decision follows months of protests after Sunrise was accused of racism for a segment in which a panel hosted by Samantha Armytage discussed the adoption of indigenous children from abusive homes by white families.

The presenter said children's minister David Gillespie had proposed white families should be able to adopt indigenous children to save them from rape, assault and neglect.

Mr Gillespie later said he had not used the phrase "white families".

Armytage added: "Post-Stolen Generation, there's been a huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they're being neglected in their own families."

She wrongly claimed indigenous children could not currently be fostered by white families.

Panellist Prue Macsween said removing the kids was a "no-brainer" and that there was a "conspiracy of silence and fabricated PC outlook that it's better to leave them in this dangerous environment."

Prue Macsween, Armytage and Ben Davis in the ‘racist’ segment on Aboriginal adoption that aired in March.
Prue Macsween, Armytage and Ben Davis in the ‘racist’ segment on Aboriginal adoption that aired in March.

She added: "Don't worry about the people who decry and handwring and say, this will be another Stolen Generation ... Just like the first Stolen Generation, where a lot of children were taken because it was for their wellbeing, we need to do it again, perhaps."

Brisbane radio host Ben Davis said the idea was "what a lot of politicians are afraid to say", and that doubts over taking the step were "politically correct nonsense."

Ms Macsween's comments were slammed as "highly offensive", and viewers called the segment "vile" and "a new low", questioning why there were no Aboriginal people on the panel.

It led to a huge protest outside the Channel 7 studios in Sydney's Martin Place, when producers appeared to try to hide the demonstration from viewers by closing soundproof blinds and broadcasting stock exterior footage behind the hosts.

The show was then the target of further protests when it broadcast live from the Gold Coast during the Commonwealth Games, with activists crowding in behind the open-air set and calling Armytage "white b***h" and "racist" in ugly scenes.

Armytage and co-host David Koch eventually addressed the "land rights protest" behind them - which began as a rally over the "Stolenwealth Games" - as they struggled to be heard over the chanting.

Viewers called the segment ‘high offensive’, ‘vile’ and ‘blatant racism’. Picture: Alex Coppel
Viewers called the segment ‘high offensive’, ‘vile’ and ‘blatant racism’. Picture: Alex Coppel

 

Protesters gathered outside the Channel 7 studios in Sydney’s Martin Place after the clip went to air. Picture: AAP Image/Peter Rae
Protesters gathered outside the Channel 7 studios in Sydney’s Martin Place after the clip went to air. Picture: AAP Image/Peter Rae

"We support and respect anyone being able to protest and get their view," said Koch. "Happy to have them here, and to express their view, but we have to be a bit careful with language and aggression.

"As regular viewers would know, we have lots of families and kids here. It's school holidays in Queensland, it's the Commonwealth Games, and while we respect everybody's right to protest ... there are a lot of families on holidays."

Armytage added: "We have to be very careful with some of the language going to air.

"I do want to point out that the original segment that sparked this was that children are at risk, not about land rights ... just keep that in mind."

The Australian Communications and Media Authority confirmed on March 30 it was investigating whether the breakfast show had breached the commercial TV code of practice.

Channel 7 has not yet commented on the controversy beyond the hosts' remarks on the show.

 

 

 

Armytage and co-host David Koch were forced to address the controversy after protesters hijacked the Sunrise broadcast live from the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast.
Armytage and co-host David Koch were forced to address the controversy after protesters hijacked the Sunrise broadcast live from the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast.

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