Australia day is usually a day of celebration, a day where we can all unite as a people under one flag and bask in the achievements of our nation, instead, thousands of people swarmed the streets of Melbourne to call for the abolition of “Australia Day”. I went undercover to document the event.
The day started out relatively slowly, Rain poured down from an overcast sky, trams carried people from point A to point B and people were making their way to work. After a good 20 minutes of walking around aimlessly, the first protesters made an appearance.
Despite all the strict COVID-19 safety guidelines put forward by event organizers, the protesters seldom practiced social distancing, and many times I had to ask that people don’t brush against me. Before the event proceeded, we were all asked to find a COVID marshal to direct us into groups of 100, which wasn’t very closely followed.
Several speeches were held from the back of a Truck, including a confronting speech from Greens Senator Lydia Thorpe who claimed that children as young as 10 were being incarcerated, and even made the absurd assumption that Australians were having “Shrimp on the Barbie”.
While the speeches and performances continued, Journalist Avi Yemini was detained by police and dropped off away from the event due to the protesters not liking questions. After the speeches concluded the procession marched down Bourke street to Swanston street where they turned and walked to the Flinders/Swanston street intersection where more speeches and performances were held.
The march was stopped several times in order to keep the groups distanced from each other. The protesters chanted “Always was! Always will be! Aboriginal Land!” and also chanted “Black Lives Matter”.
As I continued to film the procession, Police were turning traffic around and trams were not running along Bourke street, Swanston street or Flinders Street. Various signs adorned the protest, many referring to the belief surrounding “Aboriginal Deaths in custody” and many “Abolish Australia day signs.
As we walked further, tensions began to arise when a couple of protesters were being interviewed by a news reporter who asked them questions over the importance or the 26th of January to them. The questions were answered with yelling and aggression, Eventually the reporter left the situation alone in an attempt to defuse the issue.
As we continued on, various sideshows were occurring from other activists including speeches and playing Mp3 files of activist songs, there were even masked performers dancing around and a lady atop a tram stop holding up Harold Thomas’ flag.
The march continued down to the intersection of Swanston street and Flinders Street. Speeches and musical events were held and a makeshift police station was erected.
I decided that now is a good time to leave, there is only so much insanity one person can handle. As I made my way over the Swanston street bridge, Mounted Police, riot squad and everyday police offices were standing in the way. The police stood here to protect the thousands of invasion day protesters from the couple of hundred Australia day supporters that were about 1Km down the street.
I will leave you with more photos from the day as well as video footage.