Racial justice protestors remain resolute during the pandemic


By Gwyn Lim

Racial justice protestors are calling for change in the face of COVID-19, with Brisbane seeing thousands protest for Black Lives Matter and Indigenous deaths in custody.

Rallies have not stopped amidst the pandemic as protestors say infection rates have stabilised and racial issues are too poignant to ignore.

Image of protestors at the Justice For Aunty Sherry protest on 18 September 2020.

Image of protestors at the Justice For Aunty Sherry protest on 18 September 2020. Credit: Keisha Leon

Sel Dowd, social justice protestor and member of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Socialist Alternative Club, said protesting is important because of the continual deaths of Indigenous people in custody.

She said: “The government did a Royal Commission into Indigenous Deaths in Custody in 1991 and since then there have been over 450 Indigenous people who have lost their lives in custody.”

Rallies have also grown following the death of George Floyd in the U.S., but QUT Senior Lecturer Dr Kate Murray said the pandemic may have intensified and highlighted these societal issues.

“Here is this virus that people are exposed to and yet it’s shown the way that our systems are flawed – that our systems aren’t working equally for everyone,” she explained.

Thousands gathered on 6 June 2020 for the Black Lives Matter protest at Queen Street Mall.

Thousands gathered on 6 June 2020 for the Black Lives Matter protest at Queen Street Mall. Credit: Joshua Tan

The goal of these rallies is clear to Ms Dowd, who drew parallels between these protests and the Marriage Equality rally.

The Marriage Equality rally took place in 2017 for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, which ultimately saw success when the Marriage Amendment Act was passed in December the same year.

Like the rally did, Ms Dowd said racial justice protestors are aiming for a system change.

“We’re fighting to build a movement that’s going to do something like what the marriage equality campaign did…I think we want to see a movement like that, but even bigger – because racism is so deep-seeded in Australian capitalism,” she said.


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