Thousands of New Zealanders have marched at Black Lives Matter rallies in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin this afternoon.
"Ain't no power like the power of the people because the power of the people won't stop!”— RNZ (@radionz) June 14, 2020
- Protestors marching in Auckland in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
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Over the past three weeks, people across the US have already protesting over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in police custody. Since then, the Black Lives Matter movement has come to life again throughout many countries, with protesters taking to the streets, demanding an end to police brutality and racism.
In Dunedin, hundreds of people gathered at the Otago Museum reserve to show solidarity with the movement. They marched down George Street to the Octagon, where a rally was held.
The Auckland march, which started at Aotea Square, headed down Queen St and ended at the US consulate, where protesters took a knee and observed a minute of silence for George Floyd.
The Auckland rally opened with a karakia at Aotea Square and a mihi whakatau from Graham Tipene of Ngāti Whātua, who told the crowd to "keep it peaceful".
"Our kids are here, so let's do it right and fight for what's right."
There were some counter-protesters, including some who yelled out 'all lives matter' during speeches, but those there for the BLM gathering were told to ignore them, or to take a knee if they saw them.
Members of the Ethiopian and Somalian communities addressed the crowd on the Black Lives matter movement, along with social justice campaigner Julia Whaipooti, who talked about the use of armed police in predominantly Māori and Pasifika areas.
"For many of us this is not a new moment in time, not a hashtag on Instagram."
Will 'Ilolahia, a founding member of the Polynesian Panthers, told the crowd they were "a part of history" and that pulling down monuments was a side issue to the greater problem.
He said those seeking change should not be despondent at the slow rate of transformation.
"Aotearoa and the rest of the world is going to be changed by you. Not me, I've done my time," 'Ilolahia said.
He joked that he had to use cue cards to read his speech because he'd had too many batons and 2x4s to the head.
Ilolahia told the protesters not to just stand by if they witnessed racism, "change it, because that's what the revolution is all about".
"We're going to work together from now on and that's why I'm labelling you as part of history because we're going to change this place to be a better place."
Auckland based Somali-NZ rapper Mo Muse performed a piece written in the past two weeks, saying "they love to profit off our pain".
"Tell Winston Peters he can see me in hell cos we won't be silenced."
Emilie Rakete, from People Against Prisons Aotearoa and the Arms Down movement, also spoke about armed police and said the "truth is that we live on a graveyard in Aotearoa", with police laying down the bodies.
"When the cops say hands up, we say arms down."
Organisers then lead the crowd in a chant: "Ain't no power like the power of the people because the power of the people won't stop!'
AUT academic Camille Nakhid, who studied police discrimination against the African community in New Zealand, said racism was the knee on the neck of Māori, Pasifika and other communities of colour in New Zealand.
"Everything is talking and thinking about the murder of george Floyd in the US and the knee that was on his neck. But I want to talk about the knees on our neck, the Black indigenous people of colour in Aotearoa".
She said things such as putting students into lower streams in schools, lower standards of health and the uplifting of children were the knees upon the neck of people of colour in this country.
"This protest is because we love who we are. Do not let them turn our love into hate against each other.
"We have to remain awake because we need to get those knees off our neck."
Thousands of people gathered in Civic Square, Wellington, to march to Parliament in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The march was organised by a group of community advocates, including Guled Mire.
Speakers included city councillor Tamatha Paul, who asked the people of New Zealand to unite against racism here.
A haka was performed ahead of the march, and protestors walked down Lambton Quay yelling "no justice, no peace".
Mire said it was as much about systemic racism facing Māori, Pacifika and other minorities in New Zealand, as it was about the US.
"Rallying and showing up to stand with our African brothers and sister is incredibly important but we also need to acknowledge what's happening here. If we're not doing that, it's quite pointless," Mire said.
"We're taking a stand against racism that manifests here in Aotearoa. We need to be able to acknowledge our history. We need to acknowledge what's happening to Māori, Pasifika, including the community that I come from - the African community."
Black Lives Matter march arrives at parliament pic.twitter.com/hzDWtrItPY— Jamie Tahana (@JamieTahana) June 14, 2020
Mire said about 5000 people were expected to show up in Wellington.