30 July 2020
The Refugee Action Collective in Melbourne expresses its solidarity with the seven fined Black Lives Matter protesters in Sydney who were fined $1000 each on 28 July for demanding justice for David Dungay Jr.
It is outrageous that Prime Minister Scott Morrison can join crowds at the NRL, where 10,000 are allowed, but a socially distanced protest of hundreds is shut down. It is also worth noting that an anti-CCP protest of close to 100 at the Chinese consulate in Sydney was allowed to take place the day before.
The vitriol directed against the Black Lives Matter protests from politicians, police and media has been an attack on anti-racism and the right to protest, not about concern for public health.
Police in NSW and Federal Coalition Minister Greg Hunt have tried to blame the Black Lives Matter protest for Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19. But this is ridiculous. Not only is there no evidence for any transmission from the BLM protests in Australia, but it is widely acknowledged across the political spectrum in Victoria that the second wave came from COVID-19 leaking from the quarantine hotels for returned Australian travellers.
RAC has similarly come under attack for safe forms of protest, with 30 refugee supporters fined a total of $50,000 and one person charged with incitement for a car convoy protest drawing attention to the threat of COVID-19 for refugees held in detention.
The racism that has seen no one held accountable for the killing of David Dungay Jr is the same racism that sees refugees locked up in dangerous conditions, unable to socially distance or protect themselves against COVID-19.
RAC-Vic supports the right to protest during the pandemic. We call for the dropping of all fines against the Black Lives Matter protesters in Sydney.