Invasion Day protests turn violent as several arrested before rally shut down

Brianne Tolj
·5-min read

A small group of people have been arrested after an Invasion Day rally in Sydney, attended by thousands of socially-distanced, mask-clad protesters, turned violent.

Four people who weren’t part of the organised group of 4000 people that gathered on Tuesday at the Domain were arrested after a series of confrontations, NSW police said on Tuesday afternoon.

Two of the people will be issued with infringement notices and charged with Covid breaches. A third will be charged with hindering police and the fourth for assaulting a police officer.

Four people were arrested at Sydney's Invasion Day rally. Source: AAP
Four people were arrested at Sydney's Invasion Day rally. Source: AAP

It was reported the handful of protesters were arrested as they marched from the rally for failing to comply with police directions.

Organisers had earlier told the crowd the annual event's usual march had been cancelled.

The rally, which has since been shut down, attracted such a large crowd, organisers told them to break down into groups of 500 so they don’t breach Covid rules.

Indigenous and non-indigenous protesters during an Invasion Day rally in The Domain, Sydney. Source: AAP
Photos show large crowds of people sitting or marching as police officers watch on. Source: AAP

Photos show large crowds of people sitting or marching as police officers watch on.

A new mural appeared in Sydney inner-west suburb Newtown overnight depicting Scott Morrison with the words ‘Captain Cooked’ in response to his controversial comments regarding the national holiday earlier this week.

Police Minister David Elliott warned attendees in the days leading up to the Invasion Day event, saying officers will issue on-the-spot fines of $1000.

However, those who breach public health orders can be fined up to $11,000 and receive a six-month jail term.

A woman stands draped in the Aboriginal flag in front of the crowd in Sydney. Source: AAP
While the crowd of more than 4000 people in Sydney has been mainly peaceful, it has been reported some people were arrested just after noon. Source: AAP

Organisers of the Invasion Day rally earlier claimed that their attempts to work with the NSW government and police to agree on a Covid-safe approach had fallen on deaf ears.

Indigenous leader calls for ‘a million dollars for each black person’

Gwenda Stanley, who spoke at the Sydney event, said it was time Indigenous Australians were given proper reparations - “a million dollars for each black person”.

“Don’t be fooled by the Uluru statement from the arse. Let’s do reparations before treaty. A million dollars for each black person and than we can talk treaty,” she said.

At the protest on Tuesday, Greens MLC David Shoebridge thanked organisers for their courage in the face of Mr Elliott's threats.

"No threats from the police minister will steal their moment like their land has been stolen," he told the rally.

Rally organisers are calling for Australia Day to be abolished and for justice for First Nations people.

Indigenous performances during the WugulOra Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo Reserve during Australia Day in Sydney. Source: AAP
Indigenous performances during the WugulOra Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo Reserve during Australia Day in Sydney. Source: AAP

Aboriginal elder calls for change amid growing impatience

One of Victoria's most prominent Aboriginal elders has called for changes to Australia Day and spoken of her community's frustration and growing impatience.

Ahead of an "Invasion Day" rally in Melbourne's CBD that was expected to draw thousands, Wunundjeri elder Aunty Joy Murphy added she was "very disappointed" in Prime Minister Scott Morrison's comments about the Australian cricket team.

Aunty Joy Murphy was a speaker at Tuesday's Victorian flag raising service along with Victorian Governor Linda Dessau and Premier Daniel Andrews.

"We're always talking about going forwards - in some way, for some reason, our community seems always to have to go backwards," Aunty Joy said at the Government House ceremony.

"We talk about let there be trust, let there be confidence and all we hear is about being patient. We have almost lost our patience."

Aunty Joy ended her speech by emphasising the Aboriginal community's call for changes to Australia Day.

"I urge you, let's move forward for a new celebration in a new time," she said.

Last week, the prime minister sparked a backlash when he criticised Cricket Australia for dropping "Australia Day" from its marketing around three Big Bash League matches to be played on Tuesday.

People look at a mural by street artist Scott Marsh in Newtown early on Australia Day. Source: Getty
A new mural appeared in Newtown overnight depicting Scott Morrison with the words ‘Captain Cooked’. Source: Getty

Prime Minister stands by Australia Day comments again

Scott Morrison says there is no escaping the fact January 26 marks the date Australia changed forever.

The PM argues that is exactly why it should be held on the date each year.

"We do it on this day when the course of this land changed forever," he said on Tuesday.

“There is no escaping or cancelling that fact, for better or worse."

Mr Morrison said January 26, the day Captain Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack and proclaimed British sovereignty in 1788, marked the beginning of modern Australia.

"Our stories since that day have been of sorrow and of joy, of loss and redemption, of failure and of success," he said.

"We are now a nation of more than 25 million stories. All important, all unique, and all to be respected."

British colonisation led to widespread massacres, oppression and dispossession of Indigenous people from land they had inhabited for more than 60,000 years.

with AAP

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