With protests being planned in some Australian cities in solidarity with Americans devastated by the death of George Floyd, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he does not want to see the same “disturbing” violence in American that has detracted from otherwise peaceful protests happen in Australia.
Talking to 2GB radio on June 1, Morrison said he found the video of Floyd’s death “awful” while calling upon Australians not to repeat the scenes of violent protest.
“There’s no need to import things happening in other countries here to Australia,” he said.
Floyd died while in police custody last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His death has sparked outcry over the treatment of Black Americans in police custody, as well as seen planned violence and rioting across the United States by opportunistic groups that has been described as “domestic terrorism.”
The police officer who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for an extended period of time resulting in Floyd’s death has since been arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder.
Morrison said he the footage of Floyd’s arrest was “upsetting and terrible.”
Protests exploded in dozens of cities around the nation including Minneapolis, Louisville, Washington, New York, Atlanta, Detroit, and some other cities on Friday night with occasional looting, arson, and vandalizing.
In light of the riots breaking out in America, Morrison said: “When I see things like that, I am very thankful for the country I live in.”
The prime minister has cautioned individuals against any violence at the protests organised this week in Australia.
One event, “Black Lives Matter—Protest Against Deaths in Custody” announced for Hyde Park, Sydney, on June 2, will be in solidarity with the “Indigenous communities here in Australia and the African American community in America.”
Keiran Stewart-Assheton, an indigenous Australia from the Australian Communist Party, took over leadership for the event at the last minute on June 1, after organisers of the original event—which emphasised the need for a “peaceful protest”— stepped aside, citing a need for leadership from first nations peoples.
The original event, “Stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody& George Floyd Peaceful Protest,” was described to be in solidarity with George Floyd and raise awareness about “the misrepresentation of our Indigenous population” by those working in the Australian legal system.
Peaceful Protest Sydney tomorrow, Tuesday 2nd June 5pm – Stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody & George Floyd. ‘We stand with Minneapolis… Australia is not exempt from injustices faced for people of colour and the Indigenous population.’#ICANTBREATHE https://t.co/4X2ZMK663T pic.twitter.com/eJVO6Yqg96
— NSW Council for Civil Liberties (@NSWCCL) June 1, 2020
Another event also posted on Facebook called “Stop Black Deaths in Custody – Justice for George Floyd #BLM,” organised by Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, is scheduled for June 6 in Melbourne. This event has attracted interest from over 4,000 people.
At ground zero of the protests, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has been forced to established a state of emergency and call in the National Guard after violent protesters looted, smashed, and set fire to buildings and property.
Morrison said that the United States is going through a difficult time and wished them well.