'It was just emotional': Man's confronting protest on famous road
A man has captured a powerful image of a standalone protester with a noose around his neck in the middle of a busy road.
James Sweigert was driving past the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles on his way back home to Coldwater Canyon when he spotted a shirtless black man standing still with the noose around his neck.
Next to him was a sign that said 1619 to 2020, referencing the African-American slaves who were punished by hanging, and comparing it to the systemic racism and social injustice in the world today.
The confronting photo emerged as protests and riots rage across the US following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after an officer kneeled on his neck when he was arrested over a suspected counterfeit $20 note.
Mr Sweigert was in the Fairfax District in LA on Monday (local time) boarding up his partner’s store as looting and vandalism dominates the city.
On his way back he saw the “brave” lone activist and stopped to show his solidarity.
“As I drove past, as a white man in support of the protests, I just couldn’t drive past,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
“I went around the block, pulled up next to him and stopped in traffic on Sunset Boulevard.
“It was just emotional.”
Mr Sweigert said the man was standing straight and still, just as he was in the photograph.
“Looking straight ahead, I was to his right. Perfectly still,” he said.
“I just said I supported him and then I told him I loved him.
“He looked over at me and nodded and then went back to looking straight ahead. I didn’t want to interrupt his protest, but I did ask if he wanted a picture taken. He nodded again and I shot this from the open window of my truck.”
Mr Sweigert said he did not ask the protester’s name as he did not want to break the sacred moment for the activist. However the image had a strong impact on Mr Sweigert.
“To me he was every black man and woman in America,” he said.
Mr Sweigert has posted the image on a number of social media platforms in the hope somebody could identify the protester.
Others have been equally touched by the striking image.
“This is so powerful,” one person wrote on social media.
“Says everything,” another claimed.
“Now that is a statement. My God,” a third added.
Thousands to protest George Floyd death in Melbourne
Thousands of protesters are expected to break COVID-19 rules in Melbourne to stand in solidarity over George Floyd's death.
The single protest has been planned at Parliament House on Saturday afternoon, organised by members of the Aboriginal community.
"We understand it is being organised by members of the Aboriginal community in response to the Black Lives Matter Movement and the recent events in the USA following the tragic death and alleged murder of Mr George Floyd," North West Metro Region Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said on Wednesday.
There had originally been several protests organised in Victoria, which have since been rolled into one.
"I understand from my engagement with local Aboriginal community members that there is a sense of frustration that it takes a death of a black American to highlight the experience of the Aboriginal community here in Australia," Asst Comm Cornelius said.
"The events in America certainly do give us an opportunity to reflect on our own community."
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More than 13,000 people online have said they would attend Melbourne's Stop Black Deaths in custody and solidarity protest for Mr Floyd.
Police are on high alert to counter-protests also being held in the city, but respect people's right to protest.
"In terms of Saturday's plans, we do respect the right that everybody has to protest peacefully and lawfully," the senior policeman said.
"We would prefer if this protest would occur at another time."
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