In Melbourne, an anonymous “senior government source” used a client journalist to plant a false front-page story accusing protesters of planning violence. In Sydney, police spent a week working with protesters to plan logistics, before unsuccessfully reneging and attempting to have the protest declared illegal. But despite this sabotage, huge crowds gathered in cities and towns to protest racism in Australia and abroad. Zach Hope’s coverage captures the mood of the Melbourne march well: “Melbourne public life returned on Saturday with a jolt, a cry, a three-word call: Black Lives Matter. It began with a tribute to the spirits watching on, a reverent farewell to lives violently ended. From closed-off living rooms and home offices, to thousands of feet stamping on Spring and Bourke streets in the rhythm of a beating heart and a mournful Kulin Nations song. While Aboriginal-led, the shapes, colours and names in the demonstration were typically Melbourne. … One woman walked through the crowd yelling at people to spread out. ‘We can use the whole city,’ she said. They nearly did. … Demonstrators cheered the speeches and held placards. They cried ‘shame’ at the statistics of Aboriginal deaths, sickness and incarceration. Some swore at police, but they were no more than a handful. Shortly after 3pm, they began to march down Bourke Street. An hour later, marchers were still, slowly, filing past Parliament.” Hundreds of thousands of people in an illegal gathering. This could be the start of something.
7 June 2020