National

WA’s Black Lives Matter rally draws 2000

By AAP Newswire

About 2000 protesters in Perth have likened the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States to Australia's own history of Aboriginal deaths in custody.

The crowd, which included young children and indigenous elders, chanted "No justice, no peace" and "Black lives matter" as they gathered on Monday evening.

Protesters held signs reading "Australia is not innocent", "Silence is betrayal", "We demand an end to police brutality now" and "Respect their existence or expect our resistance".

Some also knelt and observed a minute's silence in honour of those who had lost their lives.

Organiser Tanesha Bennell called for the protest in solidarity following the death in the US of African American George Floyd after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee against Mr Floyd's neck during an arrest.

Ms Bennell, who has Bibbulmun ancestry, said she wanted to create a platform for people to speak their truth.

"We are building on 230 years of staunch indigenous activism fighting against injustice," she said.

"There are over 400 indigenous deaths in custody that have no justice."

Some protesters also held signs reading "I can't breathe", which were among Mr Floyd's final words.

Ms Bennell, 19, said she organised the event in less than 24 hours and only expected about 200 people to participate.

She said she was "gobsmacked, humbled and proud" with the huge turnout.

Co-organiser and Noongar woman Stephanie McGuire said the show of solidarity and communities coming together was extremely powerful.

"We stood together to demand justice for every person of colour murdered by police and we made our voices heard," she said.

People tried to maintain some physical distancing in line with coronavirus restrictions, with masks and hand sanitiser provided, but officers did not appear to be policing it.

Only three move-on notices were issued, a police spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

"While it's obviously preferable that people would have kept more physically distant from each other, we understand that passions are high and they wanted to have their say," Health Minister Roger Cook said.

"I think police exercised discretion and good common sense in allowing it to go forward in just a peaceful manner."