Upwards of 3000 people turned out for a largely incident-free Invasion Day rally in the Domain on Tuesday morning, condemning January 26 celebrations and calling for reform of the justice system.
Following discussions with police, protest organisers abandoned a plan to march through central Sydney, instead holding a seated event in the Domain over two hours. Police did not issue any fines or make any arrests for breaches of COVID-19 restrictions at the organised gathering.
About 3500 people had put themselves down as attending on the Facebook event for the rally and police conservatively estimated 2000 to 3000 showed up on the day.
Organisers met with senior police early on Tuesday and settled on a plan that would allow the seated rally to go ahead, with the crowd separated into 500-person segments, but cancelled the planned march that would have started at the park.
At the rally, protesters rejected Australia Day as illegitimate and called for justice for Indigenous people who have died in custody and for reforms to address Indigenous over-representation in prisons.
Sydney rally organiser Lizzy Jarrett said she was “impressed” by the crowd numbers and “couldn’t thank enough everyone who stood in solidarity.”
“I’m going home with a win,” Jarrett said on Tuesday. “This morning I was waiting to be shut down.”
In previous years attendees shouted “Change the date”, but in 2021 the message shifted with many activists advocating instead for the abolishment of Australia Day and substantive policies including a treaty.
For many Indigenous Australians, who trace their lineage on the continent back tens of thousands of years, the holiday symbolises the destruction of their cultures by European settlers.
Chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “always was, always will be Aboriginal land” rang out in cities across the country.
By SJ STARK FOR CONTRAST MEDIA
PUBLISHED: 22.10 AEST, 27 January 2021 | UPDATED: 22.15 AEST, 27 January 2021