‘Abolish the monarchy’ protests held on Australian Day of Mourning for the Queen

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Crowds have gathered across the country for “abolish the monarchy” protests on the national day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II.

The meeting in Melbourne was coordinated by the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, which said in a statement it stands “against racist colonial imperialism and its continuing effects on us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

“While they mourn the Queen, we mourn everything her regime stole from us: our children, our country, the lives of our loved ones, our holy places, our history,” the organization said.

The organizers listed their demands as the return of land “to the rightful sovereign owners”, an end to indigenous deaths in custody and truth, accountability and justice. Rallies also took place in Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane.

A person is holding a portrait that says
A portrait commemorates the late Jack Charles at the Abolish the Monarchy protest in Melbourne.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

An An official service was held for the Queen at Parliament House in Canberrawhere Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton paid tribute to the late monarch.

Governor-General David Hurley acknowledged the Queen’s death had prompted a range of reactions and said the nation must complete its journey of reconciliation.

Thousands occupy Melbourne junction

Thousands of people gathered at Birrarung Marr in Melbourne, on Wurundjeri land, before moving through the CBD in protest against the day of mourning.

A crowd of people protested, with some people holding signs saying
Thousands of people marched outside Flinders Street Station.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)
An Australian flag doused in fake blood at an anti-monarchy protest with a sign saying 'stop black deaths in custody' behind it.
Protesters demand an end to black deaths in custody and the rule of the monarchy.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

After a welcome to the country and a smoking ceremony, the speakers addressed the building crowd along the Yarra River.

Aboriginal leaders spoke and called for recognition of indigenous suffering as a result of colonisation.

Two people drink the smoke from a vessel filled with leaves.
The Melbourne rally began with a smoking ceremony.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

Community members spread white ocher on the faces of the participants as a sign of mourning, not for the queen, but for members of the community who had recently passed away and for the suffering endured by First Nations people across the country.

A person with a baby in front of the Melbourne skyline.
Many protesters in Melbourne are wearing anti-monarchy and anti-racism shirts.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

Organizer Tarneen Onus Williams said it was important for Indigenous people to come together to “reflect on the genocide and displacement and colonialism that the Queen represented”.

The Gunditjmara, Yorta Yorta, Bindal and Torres Strait Islander activist called for the abolition of the monarchy and for land to be returned to First Nations people.

Four people grouped together at a protest in Melbourne.
Sissy Austin (second from R) and Tarneen Onus Williams (R) say colonization still affects First Nations people.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

“We’ve had lots of black deaths in custody recently, the Queen has died and the media has been blacked out by it,” they said.

Aboriginal people Clinton Austin and Josh Kerr both died in Victorian prisons recently – Austin at Castlemaine’s Loddon Prison in September and Kerr in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Prison in August.

A person standing in front of a microphone and an Auslan interpreter.
The organizers are calling for an end to deaths in custody and the return of land to First Nations people.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

Sissy Austin said the policies that came with colonization still hurt indigenous people today.

“A significant element of the colonial project was the removal of First Nations children and the policies that were designed and developed to colonize our children,” said Gunditjmara, Keerray Wurrung and Djab Wurrung woman.

“Deep in my heart today is our Stolen Generation mob, watching the rest of the country celebrate and mourn a person who has led policies that have literally destroyed their lives.”

She said the community was also struggling with the recent loss of seniors Uncle Jack Charles and Uncle Archie Roach.

Protesters cross tram tracks in Melbourne on a sunny day.
The police were present at the meeting in Melbourne.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

After leaving the river, the crowd staged a sit-in at the busy intersection of Swanston and Flinders Street, outside Flinders Street Station.

Some protesters removed the Union Jack part of the Australian flag and doused it with fake blood.

A protester holds up a sign reading 'LAND BACK' at a sit-in at Flinders Street Station.
Protesters listen to speeches as they occupy the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

As the crowd moved from the sit-in towards the state parliament, it was met by a small contingent of ‘freedom fighters’ waving the Australian flag and the Eureka flag – which in recent years has become a symbol of anti-lockdown and anti- government. protesters.

Some of the late arrivals said they were allies of the protest. Protesters told them to dispose of the flags before joining the march.

A small group of people waved Eureka and Australian flags during a protest.
People waving Eureka and Australian flags as they take part in the protest.
A police car drives down tram tracks in Melbourne during a protest.
A police car drives down tram tracks as the crowd moves to the Parliament Buildings.

Victoria Police officers became involved in calming down small skirmishes on Collins Street as the crowds moved.

The demonstrators again listened to speeches when they reached Parliament House.

A crowd of anti-monarchy protesters outside Victoria's state parliament.
Protesters waved flags and signs outside the state parliament.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

Brisbane rally participants turn out despite rain

The Brisbane/Meanjin convention was interrupted by rain, but organizer Wayne Wharton was pleased with the number of people who turned up despite the conditions.

Wearing an “Abolish Australia Day” T-shirt, the Kooma man said Australia needed a republic “based on justice and accountability”.

Protesters are seen marching down Elizabeth St in Brisbane City.
Protesters march down Elizabeth St in Brisbane City calling for an end to the monarchy.(AAP: Russell Freeman)

“We cannot repair the systems that were brought here by the British Empire,” he said.

“If you go back through the legal documents and all the documents that imprisoned our people, it was her signature that was on them.

“She is not innocent in any way shape or form.

“My mother chased her out of Brisbane here in 1988 and stopped her going to church and I’m proud of my mother for doing that.”

He said the mainstream media’s wall-to-wall coverage of the Queen’s death had been upsetting.

“For Aboriginal people, for myself, it has been nothing short of sickening and torture,” he said.

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