Thousands in Australia rally against racism and killing of George Floyd.
Thousands in Australia rally against racism and killing of George Floyd.
PIC: AFP

Black Lives Matter protests across Australia proceeded mostly peacefully Saturday, as thousands of demonstrators in state capitals honored the memory of George Floyd and protested the deaths of indigenous Australians in custody.

Organizers of the Sydney protest got a late reprieve when their appeal against a Friday ruling declaring the rally unauthorized was granted. The New South Wales Court of Appeal gave the green light just 12 minutes before the rally was scheduled to start, meaning those taking part could not be arrested.

Up to 1,000 protesters had already gathered in the Town Hall area of downtown Sydney ahead of the decision.

Floyd, a black man, died in handcuffs on May 25 while a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck even after he pleaded for air and stopped moving.

In addition to Australia, protests were held in other countries as well on Saturday, including South Korea and Japan.

In Sydney, there was one early scuffle when police removed a man who appeared to be a counter protester carrying a sign reading, "White Lives, Black Lives, All Lives Matter." "If we don't die from the (coronavirus) pandemic, then we will die from police brutality," Sadique, who has a West African background and said he goes by only one name, said in Sydney.

The rally appeared orderly as police handed out masks to protesters and other officials provided hand sanitizer.

Bob Jones, 75, said it was worth the risk to rally for change despite the state's chief health officer saying the event could help spread the coronavirus.

"If a society is not worth preserving, then what are you doing? You're perpetuating a nonsense," Jones said.

Meanwhile, Thousands of people rallied in Australia and Europe to honour George Floyd and to voice support Saturday for what is becoming an international Black Lives Matter movement, as a worldwide wave of solidarity with protests over the death of a black man in Minneapolis highlights racial discrimination outside the United States.

Demonstrators in Paris tried to gather in front of the U.S. Embassy in Paris, defying restrictions imposed by authorities because of the coronavirus pandemic. They were met by riot police who turned people on their way to the embassy, which French security forces sealed off behind an imposing ring of metal barriers and road blocks.

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