Australia's Black Lives Matter
AFL: Courtesy of AFL.com. Tony Armstrong unpacks deaths in custody of Indigenous Australians.
Former AFL player and broadcaster Tony Armstrong has delivered a powerful monologue about the treatment of Indigenous people in Australia, in response to the death of George Floyd.
Protests and riots championing racial equality have spread across America as Floyd’s death, caused by a police officer pressing his knee into the 46-year-old’s neck for nearly nine minutes, ignited unprecedented scenes of unrest.
The Black Lives Matter movement in the States has also seen people draw attention to the treatment of Indigenous Australians. Sydney Swans star Lance Franklin re-posted a section of an article on Instagram that said: “In some ways Australia’s criminalisation of its black citizens is even more pronounced than the United States, but we don’t have music, movies and TV shows explaining it to us as regularly.”
Armstrong, who played 35 games for Adelaide, Sydney and Collingwood and hosts the Yokayi Footy show, shared two stories of how he had been racially profiled in Melbourne – including while playing for the Magpies.
It served as a chilling reminder that the issue being exposed by protests in America isn’t just confined to one part of the world.
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ARMSTRONG’S FULL MONOLOGUE
“This week, we watched on in horror, as African-American George Floyd died under the weight of a white policeman’s knee,” Armstrong said.
“He called for his mother, he screamed the words, ‘I can’t breathe’. Despite this, the policeman kept pressing, and eight minutes later, George Floyd was dead.
“The Australian response? ‘Thank goodness that stuff doesn’t happen here, right?’
“Back when I played for Collingwood, I went for a coffee with a couple of teammates. Two policemen followed me into the cafe. They went on to ask for my ID. They wanted to know where I’d been and what I was doing.
“Why? There’d been a robbery nearby. When I proved who I was, they just scoffed and walked away.
“The same thing happened last week, when I was walking through Carlton, in dress clothes, on my lunch break. Speak to anyone from our mob and they’ll tell you the same stories.
“They’ll tell you the same stories and much worse. I’ve been one of the lucky ones — lucky that when I’ve been racially profiled, I haven’t wound up in jail, bashed, or found dead in custody.
“Over 400 Indigenous people have died in custody since 1991. Of those who died since ‘08, half of the women and a third of the men did not receive appropriate medical care.
“One of those was David Dungay junior, a 26-year-old Dunghutti man, from Kempsey. He died in Long Bay Prison hospital after being restrained, face-down, by up to five guards.
“Amongst his final words? ‘I can’t breathe’.
“Thank goodness that stuff doesn’t happen here, right?”
Originally published asHost’s chilling reality check for Australia