Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Sydney tonight as protests against police brutality reach Australia.
Protesters have been filing into Martin Place, in the city’s CBD, after marching from Hyde Park. The US consulate general is located on the major thoroughfare close to Circular Quay and the NSW parliament.
The demonstration follows days of protests in the US over the death of black man George Floyd who perished in the city of Minneapolis after a police officer held him down by placing his knee on his throat.
“Black Lives Matter” banners and the Aboriginal flag were hoisted during the march which is estimated to be at least 500 strong. The demonstration has been peaceful.
“I think its cool that the cops aren’t trying to kill us right now, running us over with SUVs or horses,” said one man on Channel 7.
Similar protests have also occurred in Perth and across New Zealand and a re due to be held in other cities this week.
Earlier today footage emerged of an indigenous teenager having his legs kicked out from beneath him as he was arrested in the city.
Police are investigating after the 16-year-old was taken to hospital with minor injuries following his arrest in a Surry Hills park on Monday. But Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing wants to ensure the incident isn’t turned into “something it’s not”.
The teenager had allegedly told a male police officer “I’ll crack you in the f**king jaw, bro” before he was thrown to the ground. He was subsequently released without charge.
The arrest was captured on a mobile phone with the footage later posted on social media.
After being threatened, the officer can be seen telling the teenager to turn around and put his hands behind his back.
He then kicks the young man’s legs out from beneath him and handcuffs him face down on the ground.
A female officer is seen holding down the teen’s legs.
A bystander can be heard yelling “You just slammed him on his face. He’s in pain”.
NSW Police on Tuesday said the professional standards command was investigating and the constable involved had been placed on restricted duties.
“We’re all aware of incidents that have taken place in the United States over the past week and we’re aware of the sensitivities around what’s occurring overseas,” Mr Willing told reporters on Tuesday.
“Am I concerned about what I’m seeing in the footage? Absolutely. But I’m equally concerned about others who may use the footage to inflame it and turn it into something it’s not.” Mr Willing said the constable had used a “leg sweep” during the arrest and the police investigation would examine whether the use of force was appropriate in the circumstances.
Tristan Field, a Gadigal man (the land much of Sydney is situated on) who spoke at the Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney on Tuesday evening, said he wasn’t surprised by the Surry Hills incident. “When I was a kid I got harassed by the police. I remember what it was like to live in fear and I know what it’s like to be scared that you might die,” the 26-year-old told AAP.
Mr Field said Australians needed to know more about the history of indigenous deaths in custody “then we can worry about what’s happening in the United States”.