Young Australians have revealed why they are at risk of contracting the coronavirus to participate in Black Lives Matter protests across the country this weekend.
Demonstrators will break the COVID-19 restrictions to swarm streets across Australia on Saturday to show solidarity with the movement and demand that Aboriginal deaths in custody be ended.
The debate rages over whether the protests should continue because they increase the risk of spreading the deadly disease.
Those who plan to attend the protests say they are aware of the risks, but the movement is too important to miss.
Dakota Gotty, 21, told Daily Mail Australia that the protests are very personal because she experienced racism firsthand.
Ms. Gotty lives in Sydney but is from New Zealand, she is of Maori origin.
She said that she and her family members were discriminated against because of the color of their skin.
“Just because we have different-colored skin doesn’t mean we should be treated differently,” she said.
Ms. Gotty said she planned to go to the Sydney rally and hoped others would join her.
Dakota Gotty, 21, (photo) says she will attend the protest because she experienced racism herself
Thousands of protesters plan to break COVID-19 restrictions to march this weekend in support of the Black Lives Matter movement
Julia Hauser, an assistant director in Melbourne, told the Daily Mail that she will take the necessary precautions to ensure that she is as safe as possible while protesting in the city on Saturday.
“I am going to protest in Melbourne because I have to be an ally who needs constant adjustment. As a white person, I am a beneficiary of white privilege and looking the other way is an accomplice to racism.
“Racism has not been in the background for the virus.”
The protests come after the alleged murder of George Floyd.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in custody of Minneapolis police on Monday, May 25, after an officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes while arrested.
His death has sparked rallies in the United States and the world, and has led to a global social media movement condemning violence against black people through police intervention.
The Saturday protests, which will be held in major cities across the country, come after more than 3,000 protesters gathered in Sydney on Tuesday evening (demonstrators in Sydney pictured) to rally against the native dead in custody following the alleged murder on George Floyd
Ms. Hauser, 26, said it was important for her to get out and gather as she is originally from Minneapolis and wanted to show solidarity with her friends and family back home.
She said that Australians should also mobilize and stand up for the indigenous Australians who face many of the same injustices as black Americans.
Leaders in two of the hardest-hit states – New South Wales and Victoria – have attempted to deter protests, with Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews telling protesters to stay at home as the mass rallies increase the risk of the deadly disease spreading .
“In my opinion and the judgment of our medical experts, it would not be safe to hold meetings of that size.”
Victoria Police announced Friday afternoon that protest organizers could be fined under the COVID-19 social distance rules if more than 20 people attend the events.
The NSW police will file a request for a Supreme Court order to end the protests of Black Lives Matter on Saturday, arguing that it violates health regulations.
Dakota Gotty, 21, (pictured) is one of many millennials attending Sydney protest on Saturday
Protesters participate in a Black Lives Matter rally, after death in Minneapolis Police Department by George Floyd, in Sydney on Tuesday
Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian previously gave the green light to Saturday’s protest, but has since changed his mind.
The protests follow the alleged murder of George Floyd (photo)
She said reporters had been given permission earlier in the week for what they thought would be a small meeting.
“The NSW government would never give the green light to thousands of people who blatantly ignore health regulations.”
Leading infectious disease doctor, Sanjaya Senanayake, said major protests carry a risk of transmission.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, he said that due to the size of the meetings, a new cluster of cases would likely follow the protests.
“There is definitely a risk, when a restriction is relaxed there has always been an increase in cases.
“Since we have tens of thousands of people around, it is becoming difficult to distance ourselves socially.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has confirmed that protesters will not be fined or arrested for breaking social distance on Saturday during a Black Lives Matter protest
“I can’t imagine that 30,000 people in the neighborhood can keep social distance, and if people are excited, they’ll scream, which could increase the risk of transmission.”
Protest organizers have urged people to wear face masks and bring hand sanitizer.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said he would prefer the protest not to take place at this time, if the spread of COVID-19 remains a threat.
But he emphasized that the force supports people’s right to protest.
He urged Victorians to follow the directions of the Chief Health Officer from a social distance to prevent the event from becoming a “tipping point” of the coronavirus.
“Not proud of the genocide in Australia”: protesters march in Sydney on Tuesday
Tens of thousands of protesters are preparing to march through Australian cities this weekend in support of the Black Lives Matter movement (photo: a protest in Sydney on Tuesday)
Mr Cornelius said the force is committed to working with the Victorian Aboriginal community.
“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 emphasize the experience of the Aboriginal community here in Australia,” he said.
“The events in America certainly give us an opportunity to reflect on our own community.”
The police are also very attentive to the counter-protests held in the city and the possibility for protesters to turn against officers.