The Project panellist Nakkiah Lui has issued an emotional plea to Australians as protests over racial tensions continue around the world.
Thousands of protesters marched in Sydney’s CBD on Tuesday evening, calling for an end to the mistreatment and abuse of Australia’s Indigenous people.
It was sparked by ongoing civil unrest in the US after the death of black man George Floyd, 46, while being arrested by police officers in Minneapolis.
Writer and actress Nakkiah Lui, who is a Gamilaroi and Torres Strait Islander woman, tweeted on Tuesday about Aboriginal deaths in custody.
“If a white person was murdered every month for 24 years by the same group, we'd call them terrorists,” she tweeted.
“You call it Australia.”
Lui was asked about her tweet on Network Ten’s The Project, which she co-hosting, on Tuesday night, to which she replied: “These people aren’t just numbers – they have names.”
She mentioned David Dungay, who died in police custody in 2015, and Tanya Day, who died in 2017. In total, 432 Indigenous Australians have died in custody since 1991, The Guardian reported.
Lui told the program “they were loved” and “are still loved”.
“So what I want to say is just to the people that are watching, think about your loved ones, what would you do if they died begging for help?” she said, fighting back tears.
“What would you do if they died with a knee on their neck?”
Lui was referring to the vision showing a Minneapolis police officer with his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck as he told police he couldn’t breathe before his death.
She also implored Australians to unite and stop the mistreatment.
“What I'm saying is be angry for us, stand with us, protest with us because we need you,” Lui told The Project.
“There was never no wonderful Australia. We can create hope by creating a better world for each other.
“I don't want to live in a country where names become numbers. I just don't.”
People on social media described her plea as “amazing”, “powerful” and “inspirational”.
“I came close to crying so many times tonight,” one woman tweeted.
Lui’s on-air message comes after a NSW police officer was filmed sweeping the legs of an Indigenous teen and arresting him in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Surry Hills.
The video’s led to widespread outrage.
While the teen has been released from hospital, an investigation is being undertaken by NSW Police’s Professional Standards Command.
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